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eMarketer Releases New Report on the Challenges of TV Audience Measurement

Tracking viewing beyond live telecasts is evermore critical for TV networks

March 29, 2017

Today’s consumers watch TV and video in so many ways, ranging from first-screen connected devices (such as DVRs, VOD and OTT) to second-screen devices like smartphones, tablets, PCs and even wearables. As live TV’s share of overall viewing declines, it is becoming increasingly important for TV networks and advertisers to quantify and credit the consumption of content—and ads—across all viewing methods and devices.

Daily Time Spent with Select Connected TV Devices Among US Consumers, by Age, Aug 2016 (hrs:mins)

First-screen connected devices have served to expand both on-demand viewing options and the life of TV shows well beyond their original telecast dates. The appetite for on-demand video entertainment is healthy across all age groups, with the average person in the US spending 30 to 50 minutes per day viewing content via OTT multimedia devices or DVR and VOD playback, according to August 2016 Nielsen data.

Time spent with connected devices has grown rapidly in recent years, resulting in a steady decline in live TV viewing—especially among people younger than 35. Many of these consumers prefer watching TV programs through OTT services like Hulu or CBS All Access, or viewing ad-free fare via Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and other subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services.

Listen to analyst Gerard Broussard discuss how TV audience measurement must change in a recent episode of eMarketer’s “Behind the Numbers.”

Beyond the first screen, time spent watching video on smartphones and tablets has been on the upswing, surpassing video consumption on desktops and laptops. And mobile video time will continue to grow in the immediate future. So far, time spent watching TV content on second screens trails that of first-screen connected devices.

However, mobile video giants Facebook and Google both bear very close watching, as they continue to add more content (including broadcast reruns and news and sports clips) to their platforms. For now, Hulu is the digital platform carrying the most content that originated on major broadcast TV networks.

Measuring TV program viewing whenever and wherever it takes place is important for valuing commercials correctly, and this will become even more crucial as the share of nonlive viewing increases.

In the long term, TV networks desire a measurement system that will help them to monetize nonlinear TV ad inventory, as well as provide a holistic understanding of viewer behavior. Nielsen does not currently include this information as a mainstream component of its measurement system.

These data points come from a new eMarketer report that looks at TV audience measurement, and how it’s getting tougher. Subscribers to eMarketer PRO can access the report here: “Television Update Spring 2017: How TV Audience Measurement Must Change.

Get more on this topic with the full eMarketer report, “Television Update Spring 2017: How TV Audience Measurement Must Change.”

eMarketer releases over 200 analyst reports per year, which are only available to eMarketer PRO customers.


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