Although the number of outlets available for viewing video content has never been higher, Nielsen’s latest Total Audience Report shows that the decline in television viewership is starting to level off. Viewers, in other words, aren’t abandoning live TV in droves, as some in the industry might have feared.
The proliferation of connected TVs and devices like Roku, Apple TV, and game consoles that offer streaming content had a big impact on television viewing over the past few years. But while last year saw cord-cutters and cord-shavers abandoning linear television in favor of over-the-top (OTT) streaming services and video on demand (VOD) programming at an average rate of 8 minutes per day (between Q2 2014 and Q2 2015), an analysis in AdWeek explains, the most recent study has seen that decline flatten out.
The same measurement between Q2 2015 and Q2 2016 saw a drop in television viewing of just 2 minutes per day, and the average number of linear TV channels watched stayed virtually the same between 2015 and 2016, decreasing from an average of 19.9 to 19.8 channels viewed. The same category saw a decrease of one full channel from Q2 2014 to Q2 2015.
…And What They Mean
Nielsen’s Total Audience Report this year is evidence of the trend toward the so-called “cord-shavers” becoming not only the most satisfied of television consumers, but also the most valuable. These choice viewers have hundreds of channels available to them via their pay-TV services, but they watch only a few. The cord-shaving audience is aware of its viewing habits, which makes it highly valuable for advertisers. A choice viewer specifically chooses which programming to watch on linear television and which to watch on demand or over a streaming service. This means the data available for these viewers can be used more reliably for cross-screen targeting in ad campaigns.
Broadcast and linear TV viewing remains a crucial piece of the content consumer’s viewing habits. Though linear television may have lost part of its market share to new technology, the fact that viewers still turn to TV for programming speaks to its strength as a channel. Nielsen’s Total Audience Report this year confirms that we’ve likely seen the majority of reduction in TV viewership already.