Redefining the TV Household

May 2, 2013by hiebing2021

Nielsen Media Research is a slow-moving and deliberate company. They have to be; they count the  viewers who form the basis for how much television ads cost. They provide “currency” data, information so reliable you can bank on it. So when Nielsen makes a major change in their measurement methodology, you can bet there is a reason for it.

Recently, Nielsen broadened the definition of a TV Household to include “zero TV profiles,”  or households without a television that receives programming through cable, satellite or even broadcast. So why exactly, is a company dedicated to measuring television program viewers, including people who don’t even use a traditional TV?

Because roughly 5 million homes out of the 114 million that Nielsen measures are now receiving TV content on something other than what we think of as a “TV.” Thirty seven percent are watching on their computer, 8 percent on their smartphones and 6 percent through their tablets. And at least 75 percent own a television set that receives its content from an online service like Roku, Apple TV, Netflix or Hulu.

So who are these tablet-loving, cable-rejecting iconoclasts? In short, the young folks – 25 percent of these “zero TV households” have an occupant between 25 and 34 and almost 81 percent have no children living in the household. Essentially they are young singles who have opted out of paying for their TV content due to cost and lack of interest.

What remains to be seen is how this behavior affects their TV viewing/purchasing habits later in life. Will they conform to the norm and subscribe to cable or satellite TV as they get older and more established? Or are they a sign that a cable bill is on its way to being as obsolete as a Rolodex?

It appears that Nielsen is banking on the latter, and we, as marketers will need to do the same. As our audience’s medium changes, our strategy will need to change along with it.

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