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How has the viewing behaviours of young adults affected broadcasters and advertisers?

Late last month, Ofcom released their annual Children and parents: media use and attitudes report, examining detailed evidence on the attitudes, media use and understanding of media for children aged 5-15 year olds.

The report covered everything from children’s platform preferences (YouTube), dominant device usage (TV sets and tablets), and parents’ concerns over internet usage (unsurprisingly, on the rise). Of key interest to advertisers was the revelation that time spent watching linear or video on demand (VOD) television on a large screen is decreasing.

It’s incredibly important to remember that TV is still a key reach driver for this demographic, with 94% of 5-15 year olds still watching linear or broadcast VOD (BVOD) on the main TV set each week. The less promising news is that the time spent is on the decline, with a typical week decreasing by 1 hour for 5-15 year olds.

There’s a couple of key factors as to why this has happened. Firstly, the increased availability of both smartphone and tablet year-on-year (YoY) means consuming content is becoming a more solitary activity. Secondly, the sheer volume of choice available to children now extends vastly beyond the 3 hours of after school Children’s ITV (CITV) which many of us were accustomed to as young children and this is without taking into consideration YouTube.

50% of all children are now watching a subscription-based platform. Easier access to online games in recent years has increased the gaming hours of 12-15 year olds by 1.5 hours per week. So significant is this increase, even Netflix has now begun to view gaming sites as their core competition for screen time.

Ofcom’s other report, Life on the small screen, suggests the “hype” around Netflix as a brand, as well as its wide array of variety, on demand, was the key pull for young audiences, with the former supported by Brand Index’s annual buzz index.

All Response Media viewpoint

As the next generation of adults, it’s important we continue to monitor patterns in viewing behaviours and attitudes of young adults. What does this mean for broadcasters and advertisers?

Broadcasters must adapt their offerings to retain and attract young adults. It is imperative they have engaging strategies across paid and organic social to create hype and retain and attract young audiences.  They should also look to the Netflix and Prime model to monetise across lost linear audiences, in the way that E! and (more recently) MTV have, by launching low cost subscription based platforms where viewers pay directly for their content. Advertisers must also look to be flexible and adaptable in line with changing behaviours. At All Response Media, we favour a “media neutral” approach: seeking opportunities with the most viable return on investment for each audience. The high volume of smartphone ownership and internet usage for this audience lends itself to online and social being the perfect opportunity to reach young audiences. Advertisers need to think innovatively about how to get their attention, whether this is targeting co-viewing with parents, buying under-15 only audience through B-VOD, linear TV or targeting them whilst they’re out of the home via Beacon technology. We must always consider and be open to opportunities outside of traditional TV.