How reports of the death of linear TV are greatly exaggerated

05 September 2022

Full page article from our CEO, Peter Mayhead, featured in The IABM’s Q3 Journal Not so long ago, it was thought that linear TV was increasingly a relic of a bygone era. Viewing patterns were changing across demographics worldwide as more and more people switched towards streaming services. However, increasingly it is looking like the […]

Full page article from our CEO, Peter Mayhead, featured in The IABM’s Q3 Journal

Not so long ago, it was thought that linear TV was increasingly a relic of a bygone era. Viewing patterns were changing across demographics worldwide as more and more people switched towards streaming services. However, increasingly it is looking like the reports of its demise have been premature. There are a huge number of individual surveys that give an equally huge number of differing results, but the meta-trends of it all suggest a couple of things. First, the pandemic boosted streaming figures dramatically, even artificially, and second that the coming recession is making consumers rethink their choices when it comes to streaming services.

The result is that linear TV is not dead. In fact, if anything, it is having a bit of a renaissance.

The recently published Ofcom Media Nations 2022 report created massive headlines with its report that younger adults watch 7x less broadcast TV than those aged 65+ and that viewing across all broadcast content — that is linear channels, recordings, and on-demand — had fallen by 9% compared to 2020 and 4% compared to 2019. “The long-term trend of decline in overall viewing of broadcasters’ content, seen over the past decade, has resumed,” it stated.

There is undoubtedly a demographic fissure between different cohorts, though what is unknown is whether the ‘new’ consumption behavior of the younger generation (defined here as 16-34) evolves as they in turn grow older. Lifestyle changes caused primarily by starting families and establishing their own households tend to suggest that viewing time tends to coalesce around the large living room television once more as people age, and linear TV and its offshoots are very much a part of that experience, but there are unknowns. We lived with the model of linear TV for 60 years; Netflix has been streaming video for only 15.

The UK market is arguably the most technologically sophisticated television market in the world and is nothing if not volatile. The Ofcom report was generated from surveys that concluded in December 2021, whereas newer research from consumer research platform Attest, estimates that the number of people watching terrestrial TV is trending up by 2.6% to reach 78.6%. Not only that, but people are watching live TV for longer, with a 1.4% increase in 4-hour-plus viewing sessions.

So what is going on here and why are we so confident that linear TV is very much a part of the future? A look at Netflix is a good place to start.

Read the article on pages 116 and 117 in full HERE.


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