And where they are going for entertainment in increasing numbers are computers and their own personal, portable devices, according to the latest research. So, broadcasters that expect to be relevant to the Millennial generation had best embrace online and mobile platforms. Today, it pays to be everywhere.
I’ll second the recommendation that we adopt ubiquity as the watchword for 2009.
In a recent “Jessell at Large” column, TVNewsCheck Editor Harry Jessell pointed out that the best way for television broadcasters to remain relevant to their audiences (and thereby remain relevant to advertisers who pay the bills) is to expand their reach to the online and mobile platforms.
There’s certainly data to support a TV station’s expansion onto new media platforms in order to maintain the ubiquity of mass media, especially when we look at the trends for the next generation of U.S. consumers. And, you know us financial types, we like to look at data and payback potential before we green-light a project.
“They’re Not Who You Think They Are,” an article appearing in the Nov. 11, 2008, issue of Media Business Corp.’s online publication The Bridge did such a great job of compiling data about how teens consume media that we reprinted it in the latest issues of TFM, The Financial Manager. Following are a few of the findings passed along by Matthew Colella, a special correspondent for The Bridge, that caught our attention:
A recent Pew Research study found that teens who are the most active online (including bloggers) are also more active offline than their peers. In fact, the more a teen participates in online communities and activities, the less he or she feels the need for the Internet on a daily basis.
The study goes on to say that even e-mail continues to lose its appeal as teens opt for texting and instant-messaging technologies in droves. Meanwhile, social interactions continue to be the normal customs that help teens define who they are; they will gravitate toward the media platforms that allow them to communicate with their friends and make new ones
This last point was reinforced by a research report from Ipsos Reid that found teens primarily visit sites that enable them to socialize, download music or play games.
The Ipsos research found that nearly two-thirds of teens (64 percent) have downloaded digital music, and more than half (54 percent) visit gaming Web sites a few times per week or even daily.
However, these researchers also found that reaching teens via online media isn’t a sure thing. Their study found that 12-17-year-olds average only 13 hours per week on the Internet, compared to a weekly average of 19 hours for adults. In addition, only 37 percent of the teens surveyed agreed that using the Internet is an important part of their day.
In fact, the firm’s “[email protected] Teens” study says that online teens aren’t that much more technologically-savvy than their adult counterparts, despite the popular notion that Gen Y’s Internet skills exceed that of adults. With nearly one-fourth of teens saying they’re not Internet savvy, the researchers remind marketers to keep their online campaigns simple.
So if online isn’t where teens are spending more of their time, where are they? Research shows that young mobile users consider their cell phones more than just accessories. The Bridge reported that they’re demanding products and services from the wireless industry that will redefine mobility in the future.
According to a Harris Interactive study released last fall by CTIA–The Wireless Association:
- One out of every five teens (17 million) carry a wireless device (a 40 percent increase since 2004) and six out of 10 (57 percent) credit mobility for improving their quality of life.
- More than 52 percent of respondents said that the cell phone is now a new form of entertainment, with roughly one-third currently playing mobile games on their devices.
- Teens say that the ideal future mobile device would feature five applications: phone, MP3 player, a global positioning system, laptop computer and video player.
These studies are joined by a host of others that should be encouraging us to make ubiquity a business objective as well a watchword, if it isn’t already.
For example, CBS Chief Research Officer David Poltrack recently told TVNewsCheck that the online audience for How I Met Your Mother in fall 2008 was up 65 percent over fall 2007. More important, he noted, the median age of the online audience was 28, 16 years younger than the median age of the broadcast audience.
Another recent study found that Internet television is trumping digital video recorders as an on-demand device for the younger generation. These findings from Solutions Research Group reinforce the conclusion that teens, like their parents, are looking for the easiest way to control when and what they watch.
The Solutions study also found that 70 percent of online Americans in the 18-34 demographic have watched TV online at some point, compared to only 36 percent who have viewed a show on a DVR or a TiVo.Moreover, the number of online Americans watching television shows on the Web has doubled in the last two years; it’s up from one-quarter of Internet households in the fall of 2006 to over half in 2007.
In addition, Deloitte’s State of the Media Democracy survey, found that three-quarters of Millennials (ages 14 to 25) view the computer as more of an entertainment device than their television. According to a recap in MediaPost of the study, which surveyed Millennials in five countries:
- 59 percent of Millennials use their mobile phone as an entertainment device, versus an average of 33 percent of all consumers.
- Millennials are spending one-third less time watching their television than are other generations.
- Across all countries, consumers surveyed are using their cell phones to watch user-generated videos (20 percent in the United Kingdom and United States), and professionally created content such as TV, movies and news (33 percent in Japan.)
- Consumers surveyed not only view video on all these devices, but also watch television programming and download music, and they want the ability to move that content to any device seamlessly.
While these are the studies that recently caught my eye, they’re part of the much larger body of evidence that reminds us that the key to remaining relevant to our customers is to do a better job of addressing their needs and interests than our competitors. And we can find examples where traditional media outlets are doing exactly that.
For instance, a recent research study by Nielsen Online for the Newspaper Association of America found that the average monthly unique audience figures for newspaper Web sites grew to 67.3 million visitors in 2008, an increase of 12.1 percent over 2007.
We can also point out that nearly one-third of people watching the Obama inauguration online did so on a Web site for one of the country’s top three cable news networks. Because they have large established audience bases, traditional media outlets have an advantage in building a significant presence in the online and mobile environments.
Responding to Change is the theme for MFM’s 2009 annual conference. The agenda will include sessions in which attendees can learn about the business models for these new ventures as well as from peers who have been successful in responding to these changes in media consumption. They’ve taken the leap to multi-platform ubiquity that will become increasingly important to our businesses and our industry.
In the same way that broadcasting needs to be synonymous with ubiquity, we at MFM know we need to remain relevant and synonymous with value. Our mission is to help our media industry members with the information and best practices they need to survive and thrive in this ever-changing media world.
I continue to appreciate the opportunity that the editors of TVNewsCheck give us for sharing these insights with their readers.
Mary Collins is the president and CEO of the Media Financial Management Association (formerly the Broadcast Cable Financial Management Association), a professional society for addressing the diverse needs of the industry’s financial and business professionals. Her column appears here every other Friday.