5 trends in TV watching and what do they mean for advertisers?


For so long, the TV has dominated our living room and even our culture. But the time of the TV is waning and the last decade has brought a lot of changes in how we watch TV. That’s not to say that we aren’t as addicted to our shows as before but the way that we are using TV is changing, particularly among younger, more technologically savvy viewers under 30.

Here are 5 key trends that show how consumer use of the TV is changing:
1. For Sky users, the Sky Box has revolutionised TV. It is just so easy to pause, rewind and more importantly record. It really is so clever! It is so easy to set a box to record every episode of your favourite series – and then you can just sit down whenever you like and watch as many episodes as you like. Even without Sky, viewers can buy another device to record and play shows for them.

2. Catch up on TV online – e.g. RTE Player, 3 Player, 4OD, Sky Go. It now feels essential that any TV station will have a catch up player online. Faster broadband speeds have facilitated this and we can only expect this to continue to improve over the coming years.

3. Netflix. Who needs a TV when you have Netflix? Netflix is growing in popularity in Ireland and as a company have developed from simply streaming TV and movies into a production house with cutting edge shows like Orange Is The New Black, House of Cards and Better Call Saul. And these shows are being talked about. Essentially here we have a new channel separated from traditional TV delivery methods that is a) delivering unique content that will pull in new subscribers and b) showing no advertising.

4. Binge watching. Most of the best TV shows these days have a continuous storyline and need to be watched consecutively – all of which is facilitated by 1, 2, and 3 above. Viewers tell me that they like to binge on a show to catch up if they start watching a new show midway through the season.

5. Multitasking with various devices. Viewers love to sit down in the evening in front of a screen but gone are the days when the TV dominated; who doesn’t often pull out their phone (or tablet, or laptop) while watching TV? Twitter users chat about TV shows in real time. Facebook users catch up on the latest gossip with their friends. Daily Mail readers catch up on the latest gossip with celebrities. Snapchat users chat about anything with their friends. Programming has to be top notch to keep viewers engaged … and the same goes for the advertising.

What all of these have in common is this: VIEWER CONTROL.
Consumers want control over their viewing – they get to watch what they want when they want it. And this is impacting their relationship with the advertising too. On TV ad breaks are expected and accepted with viewers choosing to either watch or to do something else for a few minutes. There have always been a certain percentage of viewers that would switch channels or get up and do something during the ad break but by and large most people stayed to watch the ads. Now, advertising is competing against the ever-present smartphones, tablets and occasionally laptops for viewer attention.

Many consumers resent any advertising online and particularly ads they don’t have control over. Video ads are placed before and during programming on online players and for several reasons they irritate much more than the same ads do when on TV. But, crucially, it’s not the advertising that irritates so much as the lack of control. They tell me “I’m more likely to watch an ad online if it has the option to skip it.” Once the “skip” button appears, viewers can relax and often do choose to watch the ad, safe in the knowledge that they’re not being forced into it.

Advertisers take note: it is no longer enough to just make a good ad. In the Internet age, the challenge is to create video ads that are engaging enough to be worth watching on their own terms. But if you can make it entertaining enough or if it really touches your target audience, they will voluntarily watch over and over and over and share the video with their friends.