Ian Stevens, Head of AV “Why Live TV Remains in Rude Health”

It seems counter-intuitive given the rise in online and on-demand formats, but live viewing through the TV set remains in rude health.

The recent Deloitte annual media forecast provides positive news for advertisers and broadcasters in its assessment of the UK TV advertising market. “Traditional TV appears to be retaining its mass-market appeal, unlike streamed TV,” the consulting firm reports.

TV continues to dominate viewing in the UK, and for advertisers it remains unrivalled in its ability to deliver a commercial audience at scale – a fact supported by the resilient market in 2016.

The latest insights from Thinkbox’s Monthly TV Report TV Set Viewing for November 2016, show an increase in the number of impacts for individuals, adults, and men compared to the previous November and the total weekly reach of TV for individuals remains high at 94.6%.

Despite the proliferation of devices, the TV set, standard or smart, is still the UK’s preferred route to watching content. The recent Thinkbox TV Nation report shows 92% of respondents stating they viewed TV content in this way. The picture is slightly different for younger demographics such as 15-24s who access content via a wider range of devices. Despite this, more than half (53%) claimed to only ever watch TV on a TV set.

Audio visual consumption has transformed in the last five years and planning processes must keep pace.  Much of the industry’s AV planning remains focused on how to maintain reach in a world where audiences are fragmenting.  We have tools for this – demonstrating the incremental reach that online video delivers to TV and that digital audio delivers to radio.  But all of these tools assume that one impact is equal to another impact.

Our clients intuitively understand that this is not the case.  They know that an ad seen before a consumer’s favorite programme on their 42” living room TV set has a different impact than being chanced upon whilst watching snackable content on a smartphone.

In an age when accountability is more important than ever, it’s important to also have the evidence to back this intuition up. More sophisticated research tools, which combine proprietary and external data sources, are needed to create a hierarchy for different audiences across all AV consumption platforms. One impact delivered on one platform is not the same as one delivered on another, and MEC’s own research shows that TV retains its value among certain key audiences, which will be music to the ears of the commercial broadcasters, Thinkbox and also to our clients.

Make no mistake, the sands are shifting – certain audiences rate more favorably on other platforms (for example young men on VOD) and the value of a commercial impact will always vary by audience, objective and touchpoint.  With ad viewability and completion rates being so important it’s easy to see why live TV continues to hold such strong appeal and will remain a key part of the media mix.