retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Two interesting stories that point to how the media world is changing, and suggesting how marketers will have to adjust their messages and their delivery strategies in order to reach their target consumers...

• The New York Times this morning reports that The Nielsen Co. is out with a new study saying that “Americans ages 12 to 34 are spending less time in front of TV sets, even as those 35 and older are spending more.”

The analysis goes on: “The divide along a demographic line reveals the effect of Internet videos, social networks, mobile phones and video games — in short, all the alternatives to the television set that are taking up growing slices of the American attention span. Young people are still watching the same shows, but they are streaming them on computers and phones to a greater degree than their parents or grandparents do

“It has long been predicted that these new media would challenge traditional television viewing, but this is the first significant evidence to emerge in research data. If the trends hold, the long-term implications for the media industry are huge, possibly causing billions of dollars in annual advertising spending to shift away from old-fashioned TV.”

• Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reports that “single-copy sales of consumer magazines took a major hit in the second half of last year, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Publishers sold 28.9 million newsstand copies, 10% less than the number sold over the same period in 2010.

“Women's and celebrity rags especially suffered. All three of the highest-volume publications slipped, with Cosmopolitan down 6.7%, Woman's World 8.3% and People 12%.” And, “Other major titles, including InStyle, National Enquirer and Vanity Fair, endured double-digit plunges as stores pushed magazine racks into less-trafficked aisles and consumers resisted impulse buys. Newsstand sales for O, the Oprah Magazine, dived 32%.”

Where does the blame lie? The Times also notes that “a survey from Pew Research Center shows that 47% of American adults now get at least some of their news on a smartphone or tablet computer.”
KC's View:
The TV numbers have to be kept in certain amount of context. The average American still watches more than four hours of TV daily (way too much!), and a major event, like the Super Bowl, still can generate big numbers. (Last Sunday’s game was the most watched TV program ever in the US.)

As for the magazine numbers, it just shows that traditional publishers have to find ways to adapt to the new reality, and to monetize it. Print is dying - like it or not - and they’d better find ways to deal with it.