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Don't Bury Television Yet, Says CNN's Caleb Silver at Streaming Media West

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“Don’t bury television yet,” said Caleb Silver, director of business news at CNN. “We’re still watching an enormous amount of television across the country.”

“You know the industry is changing,” he added, “that’s why you’re here today.”

Silver, who has spoken several times at the Streaming Media conferences, used today’s presentation to explore his growing interest in online consumer behavior.

In the presentation titled "Truths, Half-Truths and Outright Myths About Live TV and Streaming Consumption," Silver says his interest is based on not just when video is consumed but also how it is consumed.

As part of presentation, Silver contrasted online live audience sizes with live television viewing. He notes that the realities of how most consumers experience live video content may explain just how far we have to go before we cut our cords.

For instance, Felix Baumgartner’s live RedBull-sponsored stratospheric jump—which had 8 million live viewers on YouTube—had only about one-quarter the size of the an NCIS episode airing on February 1, 2011—22.9 million viewers.

In addition, for sporting events, the size of online audiences is exponentially smaller: 108.4 million viewed SuperBowl XLVII on television, which made it the third-most-watched SuperBowl in history, versus 10 million online viewers.

Silver showed statistics that live television still accounts for 80 percent of all visual media viewing, with only 6 percent of television viewing being handled by time-shifting on DVRs.

An audience member asked for clarification on this point.

“Has there been any further research into why so many people with DVRs are still sitting on their couch at 8 p.m. to watch a live show? Is it because they’ve always done it that way?”

“It’s a force of habit; we like to do certain thing at certain times,” said Silver. “Folks still consider the news as appointment viewing. For episodics, people also want to be part of the conversation around shows they love.”

Cable networks' online properties are also doing well online, based on statistics Silver shared. Online cable properties are led by The Weather Channel which had 62,266,000 unique desktop viewers in Q1 2013 versus 28,727,000 for CNN, the next closest cable network online property. Fox News came in at third place.

“New devices and streaming options are enhancing and extending our viewing,” he said.

Silver notes that 37 percent of online video viewing is based around news and current events, 24 percent for food, cooking ideas and recipes, and 19 percent around entertainment news.

An audience member asked about the demographics of some Top 10 television shows.

“Sit through 60 minutes of 60 Minutes and half the advertisements are pharmaceutical ads,” said Silver, explaining that 60 Minutes is consistently in the top ten weekly viewing.

He noted that many baby boomers watch more television than millennials. Boomers, Silver explained, aren’t good at multitasking, where millennials are very good at it.

“We’re very busy people with busy fingers,” said Silver, noting that multitasking occurs during television watching with half of 18-24 year olds using smartphones while watching TV, with 44 percent of them interacting with social media sites during TV viewing.

Silver closed his presentation with a brief glimpse at the impending competition between internet streaming devices, from Aereo to Roku, stating that several new technologies are involved in current court cases.

The reason for these lawsuits has to do with shifting revenue models that potentially deprive broadcasters of advertising dollars, based on the fact that traditional television viewing metrics don’t necessarily account for live streaming viewing audiences.

Scroll down to watch the full presentation: 


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