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If traditions of TV viewing from decades past have held in any time period, primetime seems the most likely candidate. But a new GfK paper on trends in US primetime shows that Generation Y (ages 13 to 32) is 30 per cent less likely to be watching a TV network or channel “live” in the crucial first hour of primetime than they were four years ago.
This linear viewing now accounts for 57 per cent of Generation Y TV activity from 8 pm to 9pm, compared to 82 per cent in 2008. Meanwhile, the proportion of Generation Y’ers who are watching recorded programmes in this time period has nearly doubled, from 15 per cent to 28 per cent; and another 12 per cent are looking at streaming video on their TV sets, which was not even on the radar in 2008.
Generation X (ages 33 to 46) has made substantial but less dramatic changes in its primetime TV habits. Watching a TV network or channel “live” now accounts for 65 per cent of the Generation X audience from 8pm to 9pm, compared to 80 per cent four years ago. Recorded programming jumped only 5 per cent (21 per cent to 26 per cent), and streaming to a TV accounts for an additional 3 per cent of the Generation X audience from 8pm to 9pm.
Viewing habits of the total 18-to-49 audience in the 8pm to 9 pm hour are almost identical to those of Generation X, with 64 per cent watching TV “live” (down from 83 per cent in 2008); 26 per cent viewing a recorded programme (up from 16 per cent), and 7 per cent watching streaming video on a TV.
“Primetime got its name for good reasons,” said David Tice, Senior Vice President for Media at GfK. “It used to be the time of day when TV networks and advertisers could count on viewers behaving in predictable, passive ways – taking in the programmes and sponsor messages of one of four or five channels. The ability to take control of their viewing choices and schedules has transformed the primetime audience; but they are still accessible to advertisers and content providers who are willing to go where empowered viewers lead them and act as helpful co-travellers.”