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The State of Television in 2022


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By Sarah Butts, Paid Media Manager

Is linear TV outdated? Are people still cutting the cord? How many streaming services are there? What is even considered TV” these days? The answers are simpler than they may seem.

It wasn’t too long ago that television consisted of the four major broadcast networks and cable. Then, Over-The-Top (OTT) streaming changed the game with platforms like Netflix and Hulu. Viewers no longer needed to sit down for appointment viewing – they could simply download an app and watch anytime, anywhere. By 2021, viewers were collectively streaming” 15 million years’ worth of content in a single year (Nielsen, January 2022).

With endless possibilities for viewing, it’s hard enough for a consumer to decide what to watch and even harder for media buyers to determine where their audience is watching. Here is an easy breakdown of how to approach television buying:

Media consumption habits are key. Everyone is streaming: Streaming now accounts for 26% of the total time spent with television in streaming-capable homes (Nielsen, January 2022). Knowing where, when and for how long will help you determine your media mix. Lean into partners like Scarborough, Media Monitors, ComScore and Nielsen to get a better understanding of your audiences’ viewing preferences and habits. This will help determine which channels are likely to have the most impact.

Try a layered campaign approach. It’s all about reaching your audience across the multiple media touchpoints with which they interact daily. With Linear TV still accounting for over 60% of all television usage, establishing a campaign foundation with linear and then working your way down the funnel with more targeted tactics can be effective. Consider complementing a Linear TV schedule with OTT that includes behavioral targeting. 

Don’t get hung up on different content providers. A great rule of thumb is to start with Hulu. Hulu accounts for 3% of all TV steaming and sells its inventory directly. To drive mass awareness and reach, add a complementing programmatic OTT layer and target your audience where they are watching rather than by a specific show or platform. This is a great way to reach the 9% of streaming that falls into the other” category (i.e., ad-enabled streaming services like Pluto, Tubi, Crackle and XUMO).

Trying to reach a cable viewer but don’t have the budget for linear? Incorporate Television Everywhere (TVE) to reach users streaming while logged into their cable subscriptions by serving ads across the networks that index strongest to the target. 

TV isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s more popular than ever. As a media buyer, it’s important to keep it simple. Determine when, where and how your audience is consuming content, and plan your TV strategy accordingly. When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with a linear-based approach with added streaming for support. 

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