re-imagining video

Moving to "3 Screens"

The New York Times had an interesting piece this week on a new Nielsen study of how consumers are now watching video. It showed a spike in TV viewerships, Internet video watching and mobile phone video use. It also showed a 50 percent increase of average consumer use of "time-shifting," or recording TV and watching it later. For those tracking changes in consumer use of technology, it is a good and interesting read.

The report reaffirms a basic argument that NDN has been making through its affiliate, NPI, that the most important medium of American life, and politics, TV, is going through profound change. TV viewership is not eroding, as newspaper readership or radio listernship are. TV viewership is increasing. But how people are watching TV is changing. Satellite and cable viewers now outnumber traditional broadcast TV viewership. More and more channels will be coming available. Video on demand use is increasing, and will become more user friendly. DVR penetration has increased fourfold in the last four years, moving from a peripheral technology to a now central one in people's homes. And studies show 60 percent of people with DVR's skip all the commercials on the recorded shows they watch.

The stat I most often site is that when I graduated college in 1985, 90 percent of anyone watching that box in our home was watching live broadcast TV. Today, it is about a third. But have political and advocacy strategies involving TV changed as much as TV has? As we have analyzed, advocated and written about extensively at NPI, not as much as they need to.

Because of all these changes, one of the central recommendations we've been making to those we speak to is that in their market research they need to add a "media battery" to the end of their questionnaire, helping give media usage data to their demographic breakouts. If, for example, your target audience for your campaign are high cable and DVR users, perhaps they would require a different marketing approach than someone who still watches a lot of broadcast TV and doesn't own a DVR. Different sub-groups are moving along this arc of change differently, and it is important to get a better understanding of all this to design winning advocacy efforts now.

Another interesting finding from this article is that people are watching more video on their phones each month than on the Internet. I was a little suprised by that, but it does confirm another belief of ours - that in the coming years the mobile device will become a much more important way of engaging Americans in advocacy and politics than ever before.

As always, more to come on this exciting front.

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