Vast Difference In Program & Ad Viewing Highlighted By Millennials Stats

There was a time when television program viewing was a perfect surrogate for ad viewership. Since the remote control — the first ad-avoidance technology — that surrogacy relationship has devolved to next to nothing.

The good news for producers of television and video programming is that the content form is alive and well, and much in demand by young and old alike.

The bad news is that this newfangled World Wide Web distribution channel has not only stripped power from legacy distributors and given power to new technologies, but has provided the most effective ad-avoidance tools ever.  Content viewing and ad viewing are officially divorced.

Viewing and ad consumption by young adults and teens today suggest it won’t be coming back soon, unless a very different business model emerges.

Turner Research released some new data this month on Millennials (18- to 34-year-olds) and their younger siblings, whom Turner labeled “Plurals” (under 18) that shows the next generations of T/V (television/video) consumers still love T/V, but do not want to have commercials shoved down their throats in, as the Coneheads might say, “mass quantities.”

Turner’s October 2015 survey revealed that more than a third of Millennial Internet users’ primary type of video content is full TV shows, tops among different types of programming. Some 18% of respondents said full-length movies were the main type of video content they watched; for 12%, it was music videos.

Nielsen Total Audience Report Q3 2015 via eMarketer says that those aged 18 to 34 spend 15 to 21 hours a week on live TV or time-shifted DVR, while Baby Boomers who grew up with traditional TV spend 39+ hours a week on live TV or time-shifted DVR.

Defy Media reported in March 2015 that 61% of 18- to 24-year-olds and 67% of teens thought there were way too many ads on traditional TV, though TV ads were harder to ignore than online video.

An August 2015 report from eMarketer concluded that “Millennial viewers demand more control and customization of viewing experiences, which leads to more time shifting and binge-viewing. Smartphones are also becoming a popular viewing device for millennials, due mainly to their portability and convenience. Also Millennials have a low tolerance for poorly executed video ad creative, meaning marketers need to be savvy about media placements and more authentic and entertaining with ad content.”

I would conclude that as we see an increase in the number of cord-cutter and cord-never households, bundled cable and satellite providers will need to change their model to adapt to the changing needs of consumers, particularly younger viewers.

Like landlines that used to charge $100/month and almost overnight were replaced by VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) services from Vonage, cable/broadband discounted triple play and even Skype at a fraction of that monthly cost, the T/V delivery model must roll with these shifts, or will quickly become as irrelevant as copper-wired telephony.

Finally, I’d like to applaud Turner for announcing the formation of Turner Ad Lab to refine the linear TV and digital video ad experience for both consumers and advertisers. Led by an industry advisory board, the group’s goal is to reimagine better consumer experiences on all platforms, while strengthening advertising effectiveness for brands.  This is just the time to put the focus on the changing needs of the consumer experience and on restoring value to advertisers so not just programs, but ads, will be viewed.

This article first appeared January 20, 2016 on

About John Osborn

John R. Osborn is an ad agency veteran, formerly Senior VP, Group Media Director BBDO/OMD. For 23 years, he led traditional and new media efforts for clients Visa, Bayer, Eli Lilly, DuPont, FedEx, GE, Charles Schwab, Discovery Networks, HBO, Lifetime Networks and more. John is a longtime advocate for and action-taker around emerging media technologies through the emergence of Cable TV (Pillsbury, DuPont - 1980s), Interactive TV and Internet (Visa, US Navy - 1990s) and online, wireless, Wi-Fi access and Advanced Television (Ultramercial - 2000s). In 1994 he won BBDO's agency-wide Founders Award for work reflecting the BBDO ethic of quality, creativity and effort. Most recently he was Director of Business Development at Ultramercial LLC, an emerging media company providing a unique business model for TV, Online, Wireless and Wi-Fi access. - Author of “The Next Business Model for Ad-Supported TV?”, published February 20th, 2009 in Ad Age Mediaworks - Facilitated and trained agency staff and clients in Creative Ideation sessions at BBDO/OMD. - “Integrating Creative Leadership” Certificate from the Creative Problem Solving Institute. - Past President and Interim Executive Director of Creative Education Foundation (CEF). - Grandson of BBDO co-founder, CEF founder, brainstorming and Creative Problem Solving process co-creator Alex Osborn.
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