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Shifting TV Habits & Media Strategies

May 12, 2023
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Most homes have a television, some even have several. But the way consumers watch television is changing, and has been changing for decades. As such, reaching consumers with ads via their televisions is changing too, and advertising agencies have to adjust their strategies accordingly. 

In the early 1900s, print and radio ads were the name of the game, but in 1948, television opened the doors for marketing to go beyond more traditional forms of advertisements. Television developed further with the introduction of cable television, which leveraged signal-boosting antennas to reach people living in more remote areas who otherwise didn’t have access to TV programming. Cable television reached its peak in the 1990s, when it was the most popular source of consumer entertainment, with 65 million people subscribed to cable television by the late 90s. Around the same time, the advent of broadband networks, and continuous high-speed internet, began the early shifts towards the world of streaming we’re in today. Fast forward a decade to 2008, when cable subscribers began canceling their subscriptions and metaphorically “cutting the cord” in favor of over-the-top (OTT) services, or streaming services, such as Netflix and Hulu. These services are often cheaper than traditional cable packages and allow consumers to have more control over the content they watch. With lower costs and more options, the explosive popularity of OTT services is no surprise, and streaming services easily overtook traditional cable subscriptions, with cord-cutters becoming the large majority of viewers. 

Today’s technological landscape is nearly unrecognizable compared to how it was 20 years ago. The percentage of “cord-nevers”, people who never paid for a traditional television subscription in favor of internet-based services, is steadily increasing and posing a larger threat to the television industry every day.

With widespread access to streaming services, people all around the world are consuming the same content, offering a shared collective experience. Nearly half of U.S. adults stream content through connected TV (CTV) every day (Leichtman Research Group). While Netflix used to be the big name in streaming, now there are a variety of players (Hulu, HBOMax, and Disney+ to name a few), saturating the market. Ad dollars spent on CTV are spread thin in an effort to capture each platform’s audience. Apps and services like YouTube, Netflix, and Disney+ have captured our attention and wallets, but the COVID-19 pandemic opened up an opportunity and a need for a different way to connect.

Enter TikTok. This booming social media platform allows users to share short videos, ranging from 15 second clips to 3-minute shorts. People all over the world, primarily Gen-Zers, took to the app. With its ability to curate a unique “for you” feed that perfectly appeals to the individual user, TikTok quickly became pervasive in society as a way to share beliefs and connect with likeminded people all over the world. But while TikTok’s short videos are appealing, they’ve also greatly impacted consumer behavior; attention spans are dwindling and the ability to concentrate on a given task or to focus on a show or movie is becoming increasingly difficult. This continues to pose a risk to traditional and connected TV, and any advertisements placed there.  

The fact of the matter is that consumers simply don’t like advertisements, and with the ability for consumers to skip an ad or even pay a higher price for ad-free services, advertisers have had to innovate. At Lewis Media Partners, we know we have just a few seconds to capture a user’s attention, and that the ad buys that were tried and true a decade ago, might just not fit the bill currently. We’re also remaining nimble because if this blog shows us anything, it’s that advertisers can’t get complacent. TV and entertainment trends may come and go, but advertising is forever — the key is to be willing to evolve tactics alongside the changing landscape. 



Angela Parrish