June 2020 (Vol. 60, Issue 2): GENDER AND DIVERSITY
Why Do People Watch So Much Television and Video? Implications for the Future of Viewing and Advertising
The implications of COVID-19 on television and video viewing could add a new wrinkle to this three-part study. Indeed, even as this article was being written in 2017 and 2018, the authors—Patrick Barwise (London Business School), Steven Bellman and Virginia Beal, (both with the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, University of South Australia)—urged “further testing and refinement for today’s increasingly complex television and video environment.” Using Nielsen data to document U.S. viewing behaviors over 25 years through 2017, they found that television and video watching (including online video) increased overall because “it meets basic human needs, especially for relaxation and escape.” Asking why relaxation and escape were reasons for watching, the authors did a literature review of electroencephalography (EEG) and reaction-time studies. That body of knowledge demonstrates that “watching TV and video generated brainwaves associated with pleasant, wakeful relaxation and absorbed cognitive capacity, taking viewers’ minds off other things.”
- Total TV and video viewing is increasing, while new technology offers increasing viewing opportunities, and the viewing population continues to age.
- The challenge for advertisers is not that people will stop viewing. Rather, it is reaching them efficiently across different types of viewing. This increasingly will require integrated measurement and technology to optimize a combination of traditional television, targeted television and online video.
- TV and video advertising creative content should aim to minimize ad avoidance by matching viewers’ needs for relaxation and escape, entertaining them rather than trying to communicate complex information.