Sometimes a dose of reality can be pretty sobering, and scary. We’ve all heard about the cord cutters in the trades, but you don’t often get a sense of how real it is.
I’m in the OLDER demo. I must have my cable channels along with my Netflix. I don’t have Hulu plus, and while I do have Amazon Prime, I’m not wowed with their video selection. Yes I have my Apple TV, my ipad and my smartphone and I often three-screen in the evening.
I was recently visiting a client station, meeting with about 20 producers, managers and reporters who were almost all under 35. We started talking about cord cutters and who uses what. This informal “survey” was eye opening, and honestly it more than surprised me. It sent a few chills down my spine.
I asked how many had online video services?
Hulu Plus 70%
Amazon Prime 60%
They’re okay with waiting a year to see the episode I watched last night.
How many DON’T have cable/satellite?
85% (No CNN, MSNBC or Fox. For ESPN events, they may go to a bar or a friend’s house that has cable.) Only two people who dropped cable had broadcast antennas.
I asked the others, “How do you watch local news?” Many don’t … and they work in the business. Four or so said they watched the live stream on their phone. But they admitted they could be easily distracted.
These are people who work in news and they don’t feel compelled to watch local news.
Why? I’m not entirely sure. Clearly they felt they got the news they needed from other online sources. More important, I got the sense they felt local news wasn’t relevant to them. They admitted that their friends outside the business don’t watch local news at all.
For ratings, we have a tendency to focus on the +35 demo. We know how to produce for that viewer. The under 35 demo is a shrinking local news audience – the numbers may resemble a ski slope.
This should scare us. We need to start discussions, research and planning to understand what will get this consumer to watch local news. Will they watch local news?
Consider holding strategy sessions driven by your employees younger than 35. Take the +35 managers out of the initial loop. See what the younger demo wants to create without the +35 bias. Empower them to come up with a project to create content their peers will seek out. Produce it. Test it.
If we don’t figure this out soon we could be facing a viewership that is truly aging out of the demos we sell. And that would be a tragedy.