jeudi 20 avril 2017

TV audience: live or not live? Is TV still a mass medium?


According to traditional interpretations of traditional US ratings, the TV audience seems to be evaporating. Really? Let's first fix and improve the ratings: that is what Nielsen keeps doing, year after year.
Where has all the TV audience gone?
  • First of all, people watch less live TV. People postpone watching, they wait until tomorrow, the next week-end, the next week. 35 days after the first broadcast, TV audience keeps cumulating, slowly, surely. DVR, VOD, catch-up TV programs see an increase in their audiences. For example, between seven days and five weeks following its broadcast, the "Big Bang Theory" (CBS) ratings increased by13%... Between live TV and Live + 35 days, the program's rating increased by 54%. TV audiences never stop beyond live TV. Not anymore. Of course, some networks still disagree with the methodology; there is still a long way before a consensus is reached.
  • Then, people also watch TV out of home, in bars, hotels, waiting rooms: this viewership is important for sports programming, especially for young people. Out of home viewership is now captured by portable people meters (77,000 panelists equipped with PPM).
In-home and out-of-home audiences are incorporated to be sold as total audience to marketers during the coming upfront market. Finally! it took such a long time to take this audience into account! Total Rating Content (TCR) : people do not watch less TV, they watch TV differently. Is TV still a mass media? Yes, given the amount of time spent by so many people with TV; but no, since the audience is no longer massive; TV is not only prime time anymore: there is not a unique schedule, people do not watch the same device at the same time in the same room. The mass is atomized, but in the long run it is still there. How should a mass medium be defined nowadays? Should we revisit Marshall MacLuhan's work?

Let's note that what is true for TV is also true for magazines and newspapers: their audience keeps cumulating a long time after the vehicle has been bought. Advertising should adjust to that kind of audience instead of live audiences. Both TV and press need total ad ratings. Who wants just yesterday's audience? How does this affect advertising strategy and audience planning? How is data going to affect the role of ratings?

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