Want to know the formula for success in media….let E stand for eyeballs and T stand for time, and you’re there: E x T = $.
Gathering your eyeballs and keeping them for as long as possible is the name of the game, which is currently seeing a free-for-all of big platform/bigmoney activity.
The global champion of E x T is Facebook, which as of the first quarter of 2016 had 1.65 billion monthly active users who spend, Facebook claims, an average of 50 minutes every day on the site.
A different retina register says Facebook only hooks viewers for 35 minutes a day, but, ComScore says that’s more than twice as much as the runner up, YouTube, which commands an average daily viewing time of 17 minutes, while all of Yahoo’s sites account for nine minutes, LinkedIn for two and Twitter just one minute a day. (See what you get, when you limit messages to an ADHD 140 keystrokes.)
Meanwhile, the mere mention of eyeballs and minutes is enough to set all the big-time time-grabber platforms chanting a single word…more, more, more. And here’s the funny thing, almost all these “content providers” to Facebook and YouTube add in Nextflix, Amazon, and even, nibbling at the edges of your peripheral vision, the online music site Spotify, which is adding a video service.
But wait, isn’t time the only true zero-sum game? Everybody gets 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks…you get the idea, so every new minute you give your eyeballs to Facebook or YouTube or Netflix, you are taking away from something. Like what? Anybody want to guess TV?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which keeps track of how all Americans spend their time, we still average 8.8 hours a day for sleep, and an hour and four minutes for eating, 19 minutes for reading, 17 for sport or exercise…but we allocate two hours 48 minutes a day to TV and movies. Whoa, you say, that gives TV and movies almost five times as much E x T as Facebook, ten times as much as YouTube. Yes, but that huge gap is narrowing. TV’s share is trending down, online entertainment is going up.
Why? I’ll offer two reasons: demography and technology. Online is the land of the young, and young like portable devices like smartphones to watch their video content. Things have gotten to the point, YouTube’s Boss Lady rushed to tell the world, that last December — remember December is a slow month for TV — more 18-to-49-year-olds watched YouTube than watched any TV network broadcast or cable. “In fact,” said Susan Wojcicki, “we reach[ed] more 18-to-49-year-olds during prime time than the top 10 TV shows combined.”
And what does E x T = again? That’s right, MONEY! And sure enough, our guest today, media correspondent Oriana Schwindt of International Business Times, one of the biggest ad agencies in the world announced it was moving ad buying money from TV to YouTube.
Oriana Schwindt covers the business of television for the Media, Tech, and Culture team. She has been plotting her House of Cards-style ascension to Ruler of All Television since she was 13, and she has yet to meet a low-rated TV show she didn’t like.