Youth are deserting TV, says Claire Enders

TV viewing among younger viewers has declined sharply in the UK, according to industry analyst Claire Enders.

TV viewing: the medium is losing younger viewers says Claire Enders
TV viewing: the medium is losing younger viewers says Claire Enders

Speaking at the Royal Television Society London conference yesterday, Enders said that over the past 18 months, there had been a 22 per cent fall in TV viewing among 4- to 15-year-olds and a 15 per cent drop in viewing among 16- to 34-year-olds.

Enders said: "All traditional media companies are affected by technological changes, so in this country whether it is newspapers or magazines or television, the increase in penetration of tablets and smartphones has had a substantial effect on consumption, particularly in younger demographics."

She made the statement during a session entitled "The future you don’t want to face", examining whether TV was losing power as a medium, the role of channels in the future, and where the money will be made.

Responding to the figures, Lindsey Clay, chief executive of Thinkbox, said: "No need to panic. Younger viewers are watching less TV on a TV set than they used to. But they are by far the biggest viewers of TV watched on other devices.

"However, we don’t have the figures for this yet as Barb is still in the process of beginning to measure non-TV set viewing. So we need clarity on overall volume. But what is clear is that TV remains the dominant youth medium both in terms time spent watching it, reach and culturally."

Also at the conference, Karla Geci, Facebook’s head of strategic media partnerships, said that the shift away from TV viewing among younger groups should be seen as an opportunity not a threat.

She said: "The access to TV is changing for the better. What is changing is access points – the average person checks in on Facebook 14 times a day. ..The access points are increasing, so why aren't we seeing this as an opportunity to reach this demographic?"

Geci gave the example of BBC News delivering news in 15-second videos through its Instagram account. She said: "Are they reaching that demographic that way? Yes I think they are. It’s being open to redefining what broadcast content is."

Meanwhile, Matt Brittin, president of business operations for Google for northern and central Europe, denied an assertion by interviewer Krishnan Guru-Murthy that the advertising deal on YouTube is "very favourable to Google, much more than if you compare the proportion of TV adspend."

Brittin said the majority of revenues from YouTube advertising – more than 50 per cent – went to the content creators. He said: "Ideally what we want to do is get to the point where we can give more."

But Guru-Murthy said that taking about 40 per cent of ad revenues was "a huge chunk".

Brittin replied that this was justified as YouTube was "building an audience and technology that’s not been seen before." He added that YouTube was paying out hundreds of millions through its Content-ID system, which was built with the industry specifically to protect rights."

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