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Simulmedia TV Marketplace Update For March 20, 2020

Matt Collins
Matt Collins
Published: Mar. 21, 2020

In an ongoing effort to keep our clients and partners abreast of how COVID-19 is impacting TV viewing, Simulmedia will publish regular updates that combine insights from our software platform along with intelligence we’re gathering from clients, partners, media, and others in the industry.

For our first update, we show that TV viewing is increasing significantly. We also put this into context with changes in consumption on other screens, and finish with our point of view on the market.

Broadly, we support the forecast that Nielsen has made about a projected spike in U.S. TV viewing, based on what has already been observed in Italy and South Korea, as well as how viewership spiked in local markets impacted by Hurricane Harvey and a recent “Snowpocalypse.”

Simulmedia is monitoring volatility in TV viewership daily:

  • We saw a flattening of TV viewing during the initial stages of the crisis, from March 10th-13th. However, TV has already bounced back, with the highest viewing in a month occurring on March 15th.
  • This is causing TV viewing to trend upwards; for the weekend of March 13-15 compared to the previous weekend, there has been an increase of 247 million impressions on linear TV.
  • While Sports networks are in decline, more viewers are tuning into many other categories, including Entertainment and Kids (probably fueled in part by family co-viewing). Here’s a specific breakdown of changes in viewing:
    • Overall viewing: +6.3%
    • Entertainment nets: +4.8%
    • Kids nets: +11.2%
    • News nets: +37.1%
    • Sports nets: -44.7%

Screen time in general is also on the increase, including streaming and gaming. It’s important to place this in context, however.

According to eMarketer, in 2019, 182.5 million people in the U.S. were forecast to view content via subscription (OTT) services, representing 55.3% of the population. The majority of OTT viewing is not ad-supported.

By comparison, linear TV reaches over 96% of US households- over 120 million in all - making it the video format that’s most capable of reaching the biggest audience.

Simulmedia’s point of view:

  • Viewing trends are growing more volatile and are likely to remain that way for the next several weeks.
  • CFOs and CMOs are increasing their demands for media precision, accountability, and flexibility.
  • Marketers and agencies need a principled approach to media investment now more than ever to enable better decision-making. We touch on a few of those principles below.
  • Tools that automate media planning, execution and measurement will be favored in this environment because of their precision, speed and cost benefits.
  • Simulmedia’s best-in-class, patented forecasting technology is adapting to changing viewing habits in order to help brands predict with confidence what their audiences will be watching.
  • In addition, Simulmedia has relationships with over 100 national networks, which enables broad-based buying needed to maximize unique audience reach.
  • This combination of superior, software-based planning and buying gives Simulmedia the power to help advertisers replace hard-to-find audiences lost to cancellations, including sports. In a recent simulation, Simulmedia created a $1 million TV media plan that reached 32% of the M18-34 audience who watched the NCAA men's basketball tournament last year. Doing this resulted in a campaign that would run across 62 networks and include about 2,000 spots.
  • We also can get brands off the air quickly should circumstances dictate it.

In summary, TV viewing is changing fast, having increased significantly in just the last week. This presents several opportunities for advertisers and their agencies. Those who bring a principled approach to media investment - maximizing audience reach, holding media accountable for delivering business outcomes, and having an approach to tame audience fragmentation, to name a few - coupled with software for its speed and precision are more likely to make better decisions and achieve superior results.