Does Anyone Still Watch TV?

Pam Sullivan

Pam Sullivan About The Author

Aug 27, 2020 9:30:00 AM

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Mass-produced television was first introduced to the United States in the late 1940s. Since then, Americans (and millions of other people around the world) have had a strong fascination with this medium for news and entertainment. From the World Cup to cable news to miniseries, television has exerted a profound influence on pop culture, as well as day-to-day life.

Traditionally, advertisers have spent thousands of dollars to insert their TV commercials into "prime time" slots. Now, with more and more consumers leaning towards the Internet for their information and entertainment needs, some advertisers wonder if TV marketing is obsolete, a relic from the past.

The truth is, TV remains a news and entertainment powerhouse — and an exceptional advertising medium. It's been that way for years, and it will likely remain so for years to come.

Watch Here to Discover Why TV?

Is Anyone Still Watching?

To paraphrase Mark Twain: "The reports of TV's death have been greatly exaggerated." Millions of people are still tuning in to television stations on a regular basis, despite the proliferation of streaming options currently available on the market. 

Apart from first-hand observations, a mountain of research reinforces this fact. To cite just a few findings:

  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 80% of the American population will watch TV at some point during the day, on any given day.
  • The BLS also reports that Americans spend over half of their leisure time on television viewing, making TV the preferred recreation option for the majority of the American public.
  • In addition, a recent Nielsen study (Q3 2018) discovered that American adults continue to watch a lot of television each day. The amount of daily viewing ranges from just under 2 hours a day (ages 18-34) to almost 7 hours a day (ages 65+)!

Advertising on TV

The statistics cited above clearly demonstrate that TV's overall popularity remains unchallenged, despite the advent of streaming services and OTT providers like Roku and Netflix. Since TV remains a powerhouse communications channel, it's only logical for brands to continue advertising on this medium. 

One reason that companies should keep investing in TV marketing is the unsurpassed reach that television can offer. As an example, one TV commercial in primetime can simultaneously reach millions of viewers, as opposed to OTT-based advertisements that yield staggering results over time. This is clearly illustrated during popular sporting events, like the World Cup, World Series, or Super Bowl.

Of course, a large percentage of TV advertising is focused on local or regional audiences. In order to optimize your TV ROI, it's important to work with a media partner that's familiar with the specific demographic you're targeting. Your media partner should have a handle on your ideal buyer persona, and the technical and creative expertise to develop highly effective ads.

Learn More About Developing TV Ads That Get Results

When it comes to local TV advertising, you should also keep two trends in mind:

1. The majority of Americans still trust local news outlets.

A Knight-Gallup survey found that six out of every 10 Americans feel that local news organizations are still (mostly) successful at informing their local community about noteworthy news items. This figure, combined with the fact that local news outlets often break headlines that are immediately relevant and impactful to their audience, helps to explain why so many Americans still tune in to smaller community-based broadcasts.

2. More Americans are leaning towards "over the air" (OTA) TV viewership.

An increasing number of American consumers are "cutting the cord" and eliminating their cable TV subscriptions. At the same time, they are investing in digital TV antennas and trimming their consumption down to OTA channels. In fact, as of May 2018 there were approximately 16 million OTA households in the United States — an increase of 48% over the past eight years. While some advertisers may find this trend alarming, there is also an opportunity here for companies to invest in OTA TV advertising, and reap significant benefits from doing so.

Why You Should Continue to Invest in TV Advertising

The facts are plain: people are still watching television, regardless of age group, gender, income level, or any other defining characteristic. Advertisers are still marketing their products and services to a wide audience over cable networks, local stations, and OTT channels. Companies are still receiving a high ROI from their TV ad spend.

Of course, in order to get the "biggest bang for your buck" in terms of TV advertising, it's important to develop ad creative that will appeal to your intended audience, deploy your commercials at the most efficient times, and measure your results for future reference. Partnering with a qualified and highly experienced media partner can make it that much easier to achieve those goals. 

As you continue to invest in TV advertising, your business will enjoy sustainable growth, your advertising will yield a high ROI, and your company will maintain a steady revenue stream for years to come.

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