Did The Tivo Revolution Destroy The Metric System?

Remember the big THREE…CBS, NBC, and ABC?

These three companies were running the demographics back in the day and competing for shares. ABC Roots in 1977 was watched by 36 million viewers, still the third-most watched U.S. TV program ever. ABC made one smart move when in 1970 it aired Monday Night Football. 667 games later ESPN has managed to own this brand. But this is still a simple metric to watch.Right?

ESPN’s third season of Monday Night Football was the most watched series on cable television in 2008. It set an all-time cable viewership record for the third straight year and drew the year’s three biggest cable household audiences and 13 of the top 15. In three seasons on ESPN, Monday Night Football has registered seven of the top 10 all-time biggest household audiences in cable history, led by the Eagles-Cowboys telecast on 9/15/08, which attracted cable’s largest household audience ever (an average of 12,953,000 homes).

But this blog is not about Football or mini series. Its about what has happened within that span. TV uses very different measurements of usage because of the digital world making it near impossible to add up total viewing for a show across TV, Online, Mobile, Social Media and other digital platforms. And you ready for the kicker? Nielsen, which supplies the ratings currency is NOT measuring phones or tablets.

CBS Big Bang Theory saw a jump of 13 million viewers to 24 million when DVR, VOD and digital media are added. More and more consumers are watching shows on smart tablets, and recording the show and watching it months later. How do you measure? Netflix does not allow content holders to put Nielsen tags on programs in order to measure. Apple followed that model and no one can measure how effective some downloads are.

Last month ESPN announced the first results of a project to measure FIVE platforms. TV, Radio, Online,Smartphones and Tablets. It showed that ESPN’s content reached 136 million adults including 85 million men during February 2013. (source: Broadcasting & Cable)

Its not easy selling commercials anymore unless you can provide your demographics. Its not the big THREE but the big THIRTY or FORTY. Times are a changing. Here’s one example of consolidation: Block Communications owns NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX affiliates.

In Lima, Ohio (population 38,000). This may be the sign of things to come. Another great change would be the demographics are changing. The AARP will go from 50+ crowd viewing 22,200 million hours a month to 27,190 million hours in 2015 because the World is getting older. By the year 2050, 20% of American citizens will be at least age 65. In 1950, only 8% of American citizens were at least age 65 (source: Congressional Budget Office).

If you are leading your brand with television, my only question is, do you know the right questions to make sure it’s YOUR AUDIENCE?

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