Advertisers have been sitting on pins and needles for a while now, waiting to see how this whole streaming trend is going to shake out. There’s been a lot of chatter about a pivot to streaming in advertising circles for some time but linear television (that’s the one where you watch the show when it’s on the channel it originally aired, with commercials. You know, “TV Classic”) has managed to keep its viewer numbers above water despite big “cord-cutting” movements and the hyper-speed development of streaming services.
That looks like it’s starting to change. According to the “State Of Linear Viewing (2021)” report by MoffettNathanson, Generation Alpha (kids born between 2010 - 2025, so get used to THAT name) and Gen Z are finally flipping the tables.
Time spent viewing kids’ programming on linear television collapsed by a massive 53 percent from 2019 to 2021. Following that gigantic decline in minutes consumed was non-event sports programming (down 23 percent), syndicated programming (down 22 percent), and movies (down 20 percent).
MoffettNathanson is a sell-side research boutique, which basically means it spits out research and reports that advertising agencies can use when they’re planning campaigns for their clients. This, in turn, informs where brands are spending their advertising money — linear or streaming/online. Or print. (Lololol jkjkjkjkjk.) The report itself is behind a membership wall on their website so I don’t know how these statics were gathered or analyzed. An informal poll of Pajiba Staff Parents seems to jibe with their results. None of our kids watch TV anymore. Everything they want to watch is on streaming. And, if they ARE watching “linear TV,” it’s time-shifted to avoid commercials.
That’s probably not the news advertisers want to hear as upfronts season begins this week. Since Millennials and Boomers are the biggest buyers (as far as generational titles go) they have some time to shift their thinking and ad spend money.
Of course, 2019 is The Before Time. Pre-pandemic. And these numbers might be more of a reflection of the fact that scripted TV production was shut down for a good year and a half. Meanwhile, streaming services had old episodes and movies aplenty for the kids to watch while we were all in our various states of quarantine. If that’s the case, does that mean this trend will reverse itself now that TV production has ramped back up to full speed? Maybe. Probably not, though. Remember how the writers’ strikes of the 2000s forced reality shows on us? Not only did that trend NOT die after the strikes concluded, but reality TV has also gained more and more momentum over the years.
So, sellers beware. Generation Alpha might kill our televisions.