Last month Nielsen changed the name of their “Cross Platform Report” to the “Total Audience Report”. A fitting change considering the varying manners in which viewers consume content these days. One statistic has remained consistent in their report though, viewers are continuing to shift to online viewing at an increasing pace.

According to the new Total Audience Report, online video streaming viewers are growing online at an astonishing 60% per month pace this month, whereas TV has declined roughly 4%. Although time spent viewing online is growing rapidly, TV is in no danger of losing its place as the primary place for viewers right now. They still average about 141 hours watched each month, whereas online only gets about 11 hours each month.

Traditional Broadcast TV vs Online Video Streaming

I dusted off some old algebra skills of mine to find out when exactly TV would be in trouble. Unless I’m terrible at math, it looks like TV is on pace to die in about 3 years at which time streaming views will account for over 2100 hours of our time spent each month, which is triple the time that actually exists each month. This can only mean one thing. Either I’m terrible at math or time travel is going to be invented within the next three years and we’ll be using it to watch cat videos on YouTube over and over again as the sole purpose of our existence.

In all seriousness, TV’s bloated lineup is a prime place for viewers to make cuts to their budget. With just a stable internet connection, viewers are able to get a much larger selection of content from online streaming and there is no reason to expect this trend to end any time soon. Further, Nielsen’s numbers don’t include the number of people who watch video on their smartphones (although we know that's around 30% of total video views), or those who use a TV to watch video via things like Chromecast, Apple TV or other systems. This segment is also rapidly growing and difficult to capture.

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Viewers Are Moving Away From Old Cable Model

If you are a regular reader of this site, you should already know that having a marketing plan for streaming video is a must these days and with the continued growth in online video, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes the go-to source for daily entertainment. Perhaps it will be consumed on a television, but as the graphic below indicates, viewers are clearly moving away from the old cable model and towards a more user driven experience.

viewers consumption of broadcasting and online video

At some point, TV execs will have to pay attention to this growing trend. Right now, streaming views aren’t even accounting for 10% of the time spent on traditional television but as this trend continues, and it will, cable companies will be forced into an open competition to keep advertisers on board. Viewers simply do not have enough hours in the day to watch TV on a programmer’s schedule. DVR, Netflix and YouTube are proof that not only do viewers want uninterrupted viewing, they want to watch what they want and when they want.

Force feeding viewers content is not the wave of the future, it is the dying past. Viewers are time and again showing that a content-discovery viewing experience is something they enjoy and those platforms that empower the experience will grow the fastest.