Technology Steals the Spotlight from Prime Time TV
Advertisers have long used television to reach a large number of people at once. For decades, companies have volleyed for the most desired, most expensive ad space available — prime-time TV. But recent ratings prove prime time has become a desolate space for marketers searching for adults 18 to 49.
Thanks to alternative streaming options, younger Americans are abandoning their pay TV subscription — or never signing on with one in the first place. This trend is only gaining momentum. According to Magna, the number of cord-cutters or cord-nevers is expected to grow to 48 million US households in 2020.
Major networks are competing for eyeballs with subscription on demand, and streaming video on demand providers like YouTube, Hulu, and Netflix. For marketers who want to reach the younger generation, traditional TV spots are all but void. Data shows the most-watched television shows are gaining the attention of older viewers, not the 18 to 49 audience so many companies are after.
We found it very interesting that when the recent Netflix original thriller Bird Box, starring Sandra Bullock, had its debut weekend there were over 45 million streaming views. Some experts say that if it were released in theatres, it would have earned almost $600 million in box office receipts. Thus, ranking it as one of the top-grossing movies for 2018.
So, if younger viewers aren’t sitting in front of the TV during prime time, where are they?
Where Is Prime Time’s Younger Audience?
Adults 18 to 49 watch more YouTube during prime time than any other cable network. Thanks to YouTube’s ability to supply content that is customized based on the viewer’s watching habits, viewers see more of the programming they like and spend hours binge-watching their favorite shows. What marketers must realize is, unlike pay TV, the ads seen on YouTube can’t be preempted. In addition, digital ads can be targeted to specific audiences, like pet-owners or frequent travelers. It’s the type of customization that can’t be recreated in TV ad space.
Hulu is another OTT medium that’s pulling millions of viewers. With 20 million subscribers, Hulu has nearly doubled its viewership since March 2016. Hulu is the fourth highest-earning SVOD app in the U.S. ranking just behind YouTube, Netflix, and HBO Now. This platform is the perfect on-demand solution for those who don’t have time or simply don’t want to be forced to watch a television show between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Boasting a “younger and more engaged audience,” Hulu states ads on its platform increase brand recall by 12 percent, improve brand recommendation by 15 percent, and offer a 26 percent higher return on ad spend than traditional TV.
The New Prime-Time Advertising
It appears companies are taking notice of the shifting prime-time audience and the fact that the desirable group of 18- to 49-year-olds build their own prime time when and where they want. Magna reports national TV ad sales fell 2.2 percent in 2017 and predicts the decrease will continue by at least 2 percent every year through 2022. As traditional prime-time viewership decreases and ad prices increase, marketers are turning to digital and OTT platforms to capture a locked-in audience.
So, what does this mean for nonprofit and faith-based organizations who are looking for ways to capture this vibrate audience? Van Mylar, VP of Client Growth and Strategy at Vision40 Media says it best,
“In today’s fragmented media ecosystem, understanding the brand motivations, brand beliefs, and media behaviors of your particular people group profile is key to engagement and connection. Without deeper research, the very audience you think you are targeting on NBC and ABC, might be watching YouTube.”