Powered by RTL Group | October 2018

Measuring TV Audiences with New Consumption Habits

Daily viewing time is significantly different for each and every continent in the world. Disparities exists between target groups whilst consumption keeps growing. Alann Kervoelen proposes an insight on programme’s audiences in the world and how they evolve through new TV usages and screen measurements.

2017: measuring global daily TV viewing time

The average daily TV viewing time of the total population in 96 countries worldwide reached 2 hours and 56 minutes per individual in 2017. But this global TV viewing time doesn’t reveal the strong regional disparities throughout the world, as we can see on the map on the opposite page. North America remains the region with the highest daily TV consumption, while Asia figures in as the lowest. On the country level, as seen on the map, blue highlights the countries where viewing time is higher than the worldwide total.

TV’s changing environment

In 2017, the global average TV daily viewing time dropped by 4 minutes compared to last year. The second chart next page shows the TV viewing evolution across the world and in 4 different regions (where methodology measurement is comparable between them) since 1993. This zoomed out timelines provides a wider scope of how consumption has evolved. Over the last five years, daily TV viewing time has been falling in every analysed region except for South America. But when we look at the larger scale from 1993 to 2017, the current level of global TV consumption – 2 hours and 56 minutes – is still on par with that of 25 years earlier. The picture is even better for Europe, where consumption has been decreasing for 4 years, and yet, it’s at its steepest point in decades. The situation is more complex for North America and Asia, but current viewing time in these two continents isn’t as low as it was at the beginning of the century. Most importantly, this decline pattern should be put into perspective with the drastic changes in programme consumption over the past few years: the onset of new screens (computers, tablets and smartphones) and the creation of platforms, such as YouTube, creating stiff competition with the TV set, which we’ll come back to later on. In addition, factoring in more and more countries into this viewing time over the years might also impact its evolution. For example, adding China in 2003 and India in 2015 – where TV daily consumption is low compared to other big countries – had a negative impact on the world viewing time.

What about young adults?

TV daily viewing time calculated in the young adults target (typically defined as people aged 15-30, depending on the country) in 95 countries reached 1 hour and 58 minutes per day per individual in 2017 vs 2 hours and 4 minutes the year before. Global young adult average daily viewing time is slipping faster than that of total individuals: it only represents 67% of the total individual consumption. However, there are also strong disparities across different regions in this target group’s consumption compared to the total population. The Middle East has the highest young adult TV consumption with 3 hours and 36 minutes, reaching 92% of the total population’s viewing time. This is the highest ratio alongside Africa, meaning these 2 regions have the smallest gap between young adult and total individual consumption. On the other end of the spectrum, Oceania has the lowest young adult TV viewing time and the lowest ratio. In Europe and North America, young adult TV consumption is equal to about 60% of the total individual time.

Adapting to new TV usage

Over the past few years, TV consumption hasn’t stopped evolving all over the world, integrating both new non-linear services and added supports to TV set. In this rapidly changing context, TV audience measurement has to meet the new consumption demands, a crucial challenge for the industry. All stakeholders need to continuously speak the same language through one single metric called currency. This currency is key to monetizing TV advertising, as well as programming and scheduling. Originally, currency was a unique, simple figure. Every morning, broadcasters and producers looked at the same data: the overnight ratings. Then, the development of TV catch-up services and hard drives, easily connectable to TV sets via set-top boxes, has led to the measurement of non-linear viewing. This measurement called time-shifted measurement was added to simple live viewing, only for TV at the time.

The rise of time-shifted viewing

In 2017, out of the 96 analysed countries, 44 of them measured time-shifted viewing including TV catchup and play back recorded consumption. This number of countries is on the rise every year. Time-shifted viewing boosts TV viewing time and maintains its stability. In 2017, time-shifted viewing consumption gained an average of 17 minutes of live viewing for total individuals. This added measurement has been climbing since 2015. Similarly, for the young adult target, we calculated an average gain of 13 minutes, also higher than a few years ago. The weight of this new usage consumption among young adults is stronger than for the total population. Over all the countries studied in this report, the United States benefits the most from time-shifted TV, with an added 30 minutes to total live viewing. Switzerland is 5th on the list, but benefits the most from time shifted viewing in relative figures (weight of time-shifting out of live) at 17% of total viewing. It’s important to note that, overall, 92% of TV viewing is still watched live.

4-screen measurement on the market

A couple of years ago, the industry quickly caught on that TV content was consumed on online screens more and more, through live streaming and on replay platforms. TV consumption rapidly developed into 3 new screens: computers, smartphones and tablets. Media industry stakeholders also need to be savvy about who’s behind each screen platform to improve their targeting. These demographics are a goldmine for both advertisers and subscribers. As a result, to allow the market to have a clear scope of multi-screen consumers, a powerful new strategic tool has been created: 4-screen ratings. As the TV context is in constant flux, this new measurement will also evolve with time. Many other subjects and new fragmentations are in the works. It’s also key to mention OTT applications, such as Netflix and YouTube, and the creation of previews (programmes that consumers can watch on TV platforms before their live broadcast) which can generate very high audiences, as in the United Kingdom with the programme Top of the Lake in the summer of 2017. This measurement and its consistency will be essential to:

  • improve the monetisation of non-TV screen viewing
  • jumpstart actors into better understanding the ins and outs of programme viewing to improve the viewer experience through content or broadcasting format adaptation on each screen

In a nutshell, we moved from one stream of data delivered every morning, to a more complex, data-rich environment. Today, several countries can measure 4-screen ratings, but only France, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway are bringing data to the market (in the other countries, 4-screen data is exclusively for local institutions).

Top programmes benefitting from 4-screen usage

We made a breakdown by genre to highlight the impact of this new usage on specific audiences and the importance for stakeholders to have access to global TV consumption data. We’ve identified three distinct genres in our analysis which particularly boosted their audience thanks to time shifted and 4-screen viewing: Drama, Reality and Documentary programmes. One example was selected from each genre in the 3 different countries where 4-screen measurement is already available. The Netherlands can give us the best example with the Drama series Homeland, broadcast on NP3, which gained 174,000 additional viewers thanks to new usage. A closer look at Reality programmes with the example of a French reality show Les Marseillais en Australie, mainly targeting a young audience, has peaked especially due to 4-screens. The audience has almost doubled, reaching +84% compared to live TV. The last example is the Swedish documentary Helikopterranet, a hit programme. If we compare new media with live TV, we notice there are an additional 318,000 viewers.


Discover the TV Key Facts here