Digital content producers would like you to believe the TV industry is scared. While subscription-rates are dropping dramatically among Millennials (see below), traditional cable TV won’t be disappearing anytime soon.

  • “56% of the TV and film viewing by Millennials aged 14-24 is on computer, smartphone, tablet, or a gaming device — only 44% is via TV.” (Forbes)
  • “Traditional TV usage [fell] among viewers age 18-34 at twice the normal rate in the September 2014 to January 2015 season.” (Time)

As Sahil Patel points out in reporting for Digiday, “TV ratings are declining, but people are watching more TV than ever.” Television is currently in something of a heyday, producing higher quality shows, such as Mad Men and Game of Thrones, that have created a new crop of diehard series fans.


There’s Just One Problem…
People aren’t watching these shows on their television. Well, at least not through a cable TV package. Instead, they’re watching via HBO Go, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, or streaming illegally online.

Not all viewers, of course. Plenty of them – including Millennials – are paying for a cable package every month. But the numbers are falling. It’s not exactly “cord-cutting,” but “cord-shaving,” as many commentators have noted.

The Shift In the TV Model…
Borrowing from Patel…

  • Millennials are okay with a small screen. (“33 percent of viewing on phones is on content longer than 10 minutes. Fifty-seven percent of viewing on tablets, meanwhile, was on videos longer than 10 minutes.”)
  • Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu have been growing subscribers at a compound annual growth rate of 30% since 2013.
  • There was a 32% growth in ad views in Q2 2015 (compared with Q2 2014), which suggests viewers are watching longer content through digital means.

What Does This Tell Us About Consumers?
People want choice. They want to choose their content, their device, and the time of viewing. These preferences aren’t exclusive to television. These trends are playing out across all media platforms. As a culture, we’ve become used to being able to find our “tribe’s” content, to employ Seth Godin’s language.

We aren’t wired to be the recipients of mass-marketing and broadcast-messaging. The old advertising model of one-message-millions-of-viewers doesn’t work nearly as well as it used to. Today’s consumers don’t have to put up with it, and they aren’t limited to a restricted amount of entertainment content. So, they’re going digital. Furthermore, they’re discovering this content on social media.

If You Understand Why People Watch The Way They Do…
Then you’ll have clearer insights into how to communicate with them:

  1. Make it personal.
  2. Make it mobile-friendly.
  3. And make it exceptional.