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My TV Broke and My 16-Year-Old Couldn't Care Less

With some trepidation, I broke the news to my teenage daughter: The main TV in our family room was broken. She didn’t care. “I don’t watch TV,” she said.

As the owner of an ad agency, that gave me pause.

“What do you mean you don’t watch TV? I see you watching TV all the time!” Then it hit me…she mostly watches TV on her laptop or her phone. Occasionally, she’ll stream something on that TV from Netflix...very occasionally.

Boy, did I feel old. And boy, has the world changed.

When I was a kid (actually as an adult not too many years ago), TV ruled my nighttime schedule. Remember “Must See TV” and “Appointment Television?” How quaint!

Now, we rule the TV. We stream what we want, when we want. We watch on any number of devices, often while we’re doing something else at the same time.

Professional sports were going to be the industry’s savior. Well, have you seen the NFL’s ratings lately?

So, Andy, am I wasting my money on TV advertising? Actually, no. Here’s why.

Today, traditional TV is still the single largest source for watching video among all age groups. There is no higher reach medium. Not even close. If the budget allows, TV must be a part of your mix. A mix that includes traditional and digital media.

But what does the future hold? Will TV remain “King (or Queen) of All Media,” or will it become unnecessary?

Consider the following:

Streaming services have crossed the 50% household threshold.

  • If they had to choose only one, a majority of adults 18-34 would pick their streaming service over pay (cable) TV. All other age groups over 35 chose pay-TV over streaming. But, the 18-34-year-olds are clearly the future.
  • And no surprise, 18-34-year-olds spend more time accessing the web and using apps on their smartphones than they do watching traditional TV.
  • 25-34-year-olds watch 21 hours and 13 minutes of traditional TV a week. Sounds like a lot, right? It is, but it’s declined almost 30% in the last five years and it is half of the weekly total of 50-64-year-olds who watch over 43 hours per week.

While we’re talking about 18-34-year-olds, let’s bust one big myth: They don’t listen to “traditional radio.” False! 92.3% of 18-34-year-olds are regular AM/FM radio listeners.

The bottom line is this – the optimal media mix is a moving target. Work closely with your marketing staff and agency to constantly evaluate the latest media usage research and revise accordingly.

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