• New Nielsen Numbers Reveal Key Video Behaviors by Age Group

    Yesterday Nielsen released the Q4 version of its A2/M2 Three Screen Report, which measures video usage across TV, online and mobile. The report is here, and Nielsen does a nice job of summarizing some of the key numbers and trends. In particular, for those concerned about traditional TV's potential demise, the new data should provide some comfort. Nielsen reports that TV viewership was at a record 151 hours per month per average viewer in Q4, up from 140 hours in Q3 (a jump that Nielsen doesn't explain, but which I can only ascribe to the growing ranks of the unemployed spending more time in front of the tube).

    I looked at the data Nielsen released and there are additional key insights that I think are worth noting. I always find it most useful to focus on the changes in younger people's consumption habits. That's because younger people are generally more comfortable with technology and what they do today is often a leading indicator of what older cohorts will be doing tomorrow. For marketers in particular, younger people's behavior is crucial because it reveals the preferences of a greater and greater share of would-be buyers in the years to come.

    With that context, I was interested in the consumption of three newer forms of video Nielsen is measuring (timeshifted/DVR-based video, Online video and Mobile video) as a ratio of traditional TV consumption. While not exact, I believe these respective ratios give us a glimpse into the emerging viewing preferences by age group, and what trends may lie ahead. When looked at this way, I found three interesting things.

    First, the ratio of mobile video consumed to traditional TV consumed for the 12-17 age group is off the charts compared to all other age groups. For those in this age group that watch mobile video, they watch about 6:38 hours/minutes per month, compared to their average of 103.48 hours/minutes of traditional TV per month. That ratio of 6.2% far outpaces all other age groups; the next nearest one is 25-34 year olds which watch 2.4%. The youngest are clearly embracing mobile video and will no doubt expect more out-of-home options and value as they mature.

    Second, the ratio of online video consumed to traditional TV consumed for the next youngest age group, 18-34 is significantly higher than for all other age groups. 18-34 year olds watch 5:03 hours/minutes of online video per month on average, compared with just 118:28 hours/minutes of traditional TV per month on average, for a ratio of 4.3%. No other age group exceeds a 3% ratio. Further, 18-34 years watch slightly more online video than time-shifted video. Clearly this group views online as a bona fide on-demand platform and is likely most primed for "cord-cutting." Cable operators' moves to offer programs online will likely resonate strongly.

    Lastly, the ratios of timeshifted/DVR video consumed to traditional TV consumed for the 25-34 and 35-44 age groups are far higher than for all the other age groups. 25-34 year olds watch 10:50 hours/minutes of timeshifted TV per month on average, compared to 142:29 hours/minutes of traditional TV per month on average for a 7.4% ratio. For 35-44 year-olds its 9:44 hours/minutes of timeshifted compared to 147:21 hours/minutes of traditional TV for a 6.4% ratio. No other age group even reaches a ratio of 5%. Time-shifting and its ad-skipping - its frequent companion behavior - are becoming increasingly prevalent for these age groups.

    On the surface the Nielsen data suggests that traditional TV consumption is quite durable even as newer viewing platforms are introduced. Yet when numbers like those above are factored in, it becomes apparent that for certain age groups, behavioral change is well underway. This is data that market participants need to pay close attention to and then plan accordingly.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

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