The reach of traditional television appears to be shrinking yet the truth is most Americans still own a TV. Moreover, most Americans watch linear TV on a daily basis. Businesses are battling for the average American’s time, making it difficult for linear TV providers to expand market share.
The question is whether traditional TV will maintain its extensive reach as the competition for consumers’ time heats up as we transition to the high-tech era.
Why Linear TV Has a Large Audience
Some readers might be asking, what is linear TV? In short, linear TV is the traditional TV experience in which video content is delivered through cable, satellite dish or over the air. Rewind back to the 1980s and most Americans spent the majority of their free time with family, either outdoors or watching linear TV inside the home.
Families have become more segmented as the number of entertainment options has expanded. Still, most Americans carve out time to watch linear TV and will likely continue to do so far into the future. Moreover, young adults, singles and retirees are also inclined to watch linear TV even if watching alone.
Linear TV’s Nationwide Reach
Contrary to what some in the mainstream media have stated, the younger age cohorts have not completely jumped ship from linear TV to streaming video services. A recent report highlights the fact that 34% of millennials watch linear TV on a daily basis. Moreover, the same report noted that nearly 30% of Generation Z members also watch linear TV every single day, without exception.
The statistics noted above are to be analyzed in the proper context. The average age of linear TV watchers is 55. The older linear TV audience clearly poses hurdles for businesses that primarily market their product or service to younger consumers. However, businesses that closely review the TV ratings and related statistics will find opportunities to present commercials to younger viewers on select channels, programs and times of day.
If you are still uncertain as to whether advertising on linear TV is likely to generate a significant return on investment, consider the fact that exposure to an older audience might be a net positive even if adults between 30 and 60 are not the top-targeted customer demographic.
Those aged 50+ are responsible for more than half of the country’s consumer spending. Moreover, nearly 85% of all linear TV viewers are aged 35+, meaning linear TV ads have a high likelihood of airing before young and middle-aged adults with ample discretionary income.
Linear TV Benefits Both Viewers and Businesses
The question begs: why does linear TV continue to hold strong appeal as we transition through the age of electronic distractions with seemingly endless opportunities for digital digression? Much has been made of the fact that linear TV viewers tend to be in their 50s.
Though the average age of linear TV viewers is higher than most advertisers desire, plenty of young adults in their 30s and 40s also watch linear TV. Such viewers are desirable to businesses as they are in the prime of their lives, freely spending personal income on products advertised on linear TV and other digital platforms. Businesses that design ads for target linear TV audiences will maximize the impact, potentially creating loyal customers in 30 seconds or less.
Viewers Are Still “Lining Up” the Evening Entertainment
The root of the word “linear” is line, meaning aligning in an orderly manner. Linear TV users participate in the lining up of TV programs as desired, oftentimes using a program schedule guide to plan an evening of viewing. The linear approach empowers viewers to consume their preferred TV shows when scheduled.
Though there is the option of recording linear TV content with a DVR and viewing the shows later, linear TV consumers clearly skew older. These viewers grew up in an era in which TV shows were appointment viewing. Those willing to carve out time from their schedule to consume linear TV programming are also inclined to watch TV commercials aired on linear TV stations.
Why Linear TV Has Staying Power
Analyze linear TV viewers and you’ll find they tend to be routine-oriented, loyal, traditional and relatively older than the population as a whole. These consumers clearly recognize the value of linear TV. The linear approach empowers viewers to consume specific video content at certain times on individual channels.
Oftentimes, it is the hyper-specialization of cable TV channels that keeps linear TV viewers coming back for more. In other cases, it is the exclusivity of cable TV channels that appeals to linear TV viewers. Some favor the linear approach for its broad selection of channels as contrasted with the sometimes niche programming available on video streaming services. Linear TV viewers also enjoy live TV events ranging from sports events to live news coverage, political events and more.