Live TV Viewing Holds Its Ground Among Likely Voters

August 15, 2012

saymedia-source-of-live-tv-viewing-voters-jun12vmay11-august2012.png70% of likely voters claimed in June to have watched live TV in the previous week, per results [pdf] of a survey by SAY Media, conducted in partnership with Targeted Victory, Public Opinion Strategies, Chong & Koster and SEA Polling. That figure is up from 29% in May 2011, when likely voters were asked the same question.

Data from “Off The Grid 2012” reveals that TV viewing among likely voters is up across all platforms in that period save for one – DVDs. Live TV led strongly in June, with 70% of likely voters reporting having watched live TV the previous week (up 2% points from 2011). Trailing in popularity as viewing platforms were: DVD (48%, down 3% points); internet with a laptop or PC (44%, up 4% points); timeshifted on TiVo or DVR (44%, up 4% points); smartphone (16%, up 2% points); and streamed through a TV (17%, up 4% points).

TV Holds Steady, But Other Platforms Gain Ground

58% of likely voters cited live TV as their primary platform for consuming video content, virtually unchanged from May 2011 (57%). However, other platforms gained ground, particularly among the 18-44 demographic. For these likely voters, watching video on the internet increased as a preferred medium to 15% from 11% in 2011, and streaming via various devices increasing to 10%, up from 6%.

Even so, a minority (28%) of likely voters claimed to watch less live TV than a year ago. Correspondingly, nearly a quarter of likely voters said they will switch to digital streaming in the next 2 years.

Political advertising heavily favors TV over other channels. Online political ad spending for this year’s elections is forecast at about $160 million, representing a huge increase from an estimated $22.2 million spent online for the 2008 elections, according to a Borrell Associates report released in March. Even so, online is forecast to account for only 1.5% share of total political spending this year, with broadcast TV accounting for easily the largest share of total spending, at more than 57 cents of every dollar spent.

Mobile Ownership Up Among Voters

According to the SAY Media report, in May 2011, just over a third of likely voters owned a smartphone, a proportion that has risen to 48% in June 2012. SAY Media did not track tablet ownership in 2011, but recorded it at 32% among likely voters in 2012. 39% of the 18-44 bracket reported owning a tablet, as did a quarter of likely voters aged 45 and older.

Time Shifting Depresses Ad Exposures

18% of likely voters (and 25% of 18-44-year-olds) primarily watch video content on DVRs, both relatively unchanged from last year. 40% of voters surveyed own a DVR: of these, 54% reported skipping ads all the time, and 85% said they skip ads at least three-quarters of the time.

Pres. Obama Posting More Content Online

While live TV still is the preferred medium for voters to consume video content (and presumably advertising through video delivery platforms), the presidential campaigns are looking to supplement their traditional media advertising with direct messaging through digital tools, per results of a study released in August 2012 by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. And in this realm, President Obama is in the clear lead over Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

Examining direct digital messaging from the campaigns from June 4-17, the study found that the Obama campaign posted 404 times on Twitter, compared to just 16 for the Romney campaign. The Obama campaign also outstripped the Romney campaign for its website blog posts (106 vs. 55) and YouTube videos (21 vs. 10), though the Romney campaign took the lead in Facebook posts (34 vs. 27).

Other Findings:

  • According to the SAY Media study, among likely voters, 43% of smartphone owners and 43% of tablet owners currently intend to vote for Romney, versus 47% on both devices intending to vote for President Obama.
  • Among likely voters in the battleground state of Florida, 52% had watched video over the internet during the prior week and 22% watched through streaming, up from 44% and 10%, respectively the previous year.
  • The average time spent per week watching video is almost 20 hours among likely voters, with more than half on live TV.

About The Data: SAY Media conducted a national telephone survey among 800 likely voters from both sides of the political spectrum, and from June 20 to June 24, 2012. Furthermore, they surveyed an additional 332 likely voters in Ohio and 355 in Florida to understand how media trends impacted voters in key battleground states.

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