Young viewers turning off

By Holly Rees, Account Director

Do you read the book or watch the film? It’s the eternal question! Personally, I go for the book every time. I hear it’s a superb film but Bradley Cooper as Pat in Silver Linings Playbook is a big no for me and as much as I love Rachel McAdams I can’t even bear the thought of watching Time Traveller’s Wife after weeping my way through the book. So, this week a conversation about films in the office and the release of Gone Girl (my current read) sparked some interesting discussions.

For instance, can you believe some members of the team have watched the Sex and the City film WITHOUT ever watching the series!! Absolute crime in my opinion but then they were only five when it started (makes me feel old)!

But does this say more about the TV consumption and viewings habits of the younger generation? Ofcom’s latest annual report on the communications sector shows that younger viewers are leaving the living room in their masses which is slightly worrying to the broadcast industry – will it face the same decline as traditional print media?

As a whole, Britons of all ages watched an average of 11 minutes less television in 2013 than the previous year, when total viewing was boosted by the London Olympics – the first decline across the board since 2010.

Research company Enders Analysis has also found that in the last 18 months, viewing among 16-34 year olds has dropped by 22{20156fe61baea400d2663eb990f17abdabeb6ef183a2129287a793abd8ac1d8a} (whoop I’m still young in the eyes of research).

So why is this happening? Well, for a start, young viewers have not had time to mature their viewing habits. Growing up in a more technologically advanced world (post dial-up broadband and telephone boxes and more smartphones and tablets) they are accustomed to consuming their favourite TV programmes or films via online and via mobile apps.

The report comes hot on the heels of BBC Three (generally the youth targeted channel) being axed and an increased focus being placed on making more original TV series for its online viewers.

But perhaps we all need to catch up with the younger crowd – BARB, the ratings body announced just last month the deployment of a new measurement technique that captures panellists’ viewing on iPad and Android tablets, reflecting the changes to TV consumption – should this form part of Ofcom’s report?

So how do broadcasters attract the younger generation and retain them as viewers?

Further research published by television advertising trade group Thinkbox highlighted the importance of advertising to the broadcast industry. It found that audio and, in particular, music within advertising captured and held viewer attention more effectively than other factors – this intel could be of huge value to those advertisers hoping to reach the multi-screen viewer.

Interestingly, the study also found that young people were most likely to discuss TV advertising at 12{20156fe61baea400d2663eb990f17abdabeb6ef183a2129287a793abd8ac1d8a}, and viewers found Facebook to be the best fit with social TV campaign at 31{20156fe61baea400d2663eb990f17abdabeb6ef183a2129287a793abd8ac1d8a}, and Twitter at 27{20156fe61baea400d2663eb990f17abdabeb6ef183a2129287a793abd8ac1d8a}.

It’s clear that there is still a place in the home for the TV but as viewers we now have the choice to consume our content how we like and where we like, be it on a tablet or mobile device and on the commute to work on the train.

Broadcasters and advertisers now need to find ways to follow their younger audiences away from the main screen in the living room.

If young people are talking about advertising the most, should publishers be looking at ways to target them (although they should read the book first, then see the film).