For the first time ever, reports eMarketer, “more than half of the US population will watch TV shows online at least once a month. In 2016, 164.5 million Americans will watch digital TV—50.8% of the US population. That’s a jump from 47.8% last year.”

Forecasters anticipate the rise of digital TV viewership to cause traditional TV viewership to decrease in the years ahead. These trends are largely influenced by the influx of new devices and a growing over-the-top video market. As we reported earlier this month, Netflix users in many areas of the world–including India, South Korea, Japan, Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Eastern Europe–use a device other than a television as their primary viewing device.

Millennials & Gen-Z Lead the Shift Away from TV

The shift from traditional TV to digital is heavily influenced by Millennials. In September 2015, we shared these statistics with BuzzPlant Blog readers:

  • “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)

The video landscape is changing rapidly; everything from how shows are made to the way we watch them has changed and will continue to change in the years ahead. For example, when asked what media they would miss most, children’s answers revealed a strong preference for mobile devices and tablets, reports Benedict Evans in ‘Mobile is eating the world’.

screenshot (Digital TV Viewers Are Now the Majority)

Computing devices used for video now far outnumber actual ‘televisions’. TVs account for just 24% of video players, reports Evans (slide 36). For comparison, Google Android devices account for 23% of video players. If it hasn’t already happened, there will soon be more Android devices than televisions.

Advertising Dollars Reinforces the Shift
A recent article on MediaPost forecasts digital advertising spending in 2017 to overtake traditional TV advertising. “Digital advertising spending will grow 12.4% in 2017 to $77.37 billion, while traditional TV advertising climbs 2% to $72.01 billion.”

The “shift to digital” has been in progress for years now, but 2016 marks a tipping point. Devices, viewership, and advertising dollars are all overtaking traditional TV. Does that make TV a thing of the past? Hardly. TV isn’t disappearing anytime soon. And some forward-thinking publishers, like Vice Media, are actually stepping into the TV market.

Where do you see TV in five years?
Let us know in the comments below.