After working and sleeping, people spend more time watching TV than any other activity (breathing is a close second). But new data from Nielsen shows that online video and the proliferation of connected screens are changing the way we watch it. Young people, specifically, are spending less time in front of the TV set and cable box. Quoting from a recent New York Times article:
The divide along a demographic line reveals the effect of Internet videos, social networks, mobile phones and video games -- in short, all the alternatives to the television set that are taking up growing slices of the American attention span. Young people are still watching the same shows, but they are streaming them on computers and phones to a greater degree than their parents or grandparents do.
This news is especially important when you consider the source. This data isn’t from a streaming video start up with an ideological axe to grind. These numbers are coming from Nielsen -- the TV ratings people.
When some minor research outfit publishes a survey “proving” that cord-cutting is real, people have every right to be a bit skeptical. Conversely, when cable companies issue their own surveys showing that cord cutters aren’t real or that the trend will be short-lived, people should consider the the biases and motives behind the findings. We’ve looked at this issue before and believe that focusing on data -- not hype -- is the only way to accurately assess the changing media landscape. And the Nielsen findings are in line with our own data.
Without a doubt, new technologies (and viewing habits) are posing both challenges and opportunities for video programmers and providers. We’re arguably approaching a tipping point of rapid IPTV adoption. “If the trends hold,” argues the Times, “the long-term implications for the media industry are huge, possibly causing billions of dollars in annual advertising spending to shift away from old-fashioned TV.”
This is TV now. It’s tablets and social video and interactive, personalized advertising. For those of you keeping score at home, this industry is well past early adopter territory. Sure, industry pubs and tech press covered the Nielsen findings. But so did the New York Times. Even The Kansas City Star had an article about how these connected devices are changing TV this week. The transition from old to new distribution models is no longer a matter of if -- it is a matter of when.
The secret of online video is that it’s not a secret anymore. This is the new TV. And it’s already here.