Survey Finds Optimism for Linear TV Future

The results of a SmithGeiger survey of media leaders from across the broadcast, entertainment, finance and tech sectors were unveiled Monday at the inaugural NAB Show Senior Leadership Summit.

The survey finds a majority remain optimistic overall about the future of linear television in the face of pressing challenges. Content creation was seen as a major strength of broadcast TV by survey respondents.

A second survey of viewers showed that local TV is the dominant source of news and information across all key 18–54 demos. Overall, SmithGeiger found that 57 percent of the 79 leaders surveyed report being generally optimistic about the media industry.

They see its five greatest challenges as the ability to embrace change (91 percent), create compelling content (88 percent), understand today’s dynamic audience (72 percent), obtain more accurate metrics and audience measurement (71 percent), and find new revenue models (68 percent). When it comes to meeting content challenges, 84 percent believe television is up to the task.

The viewer survey found that local TV was the dominant source of news and information across all key 18–54 demos. For this survey, SmithGeiger had surveyed 1,007 U.S. TV viewers age 18–54 — a demographic comprising 87 percent of all adults — who either watch live TV or stream content on devices. The conclusion: TV viewers are spending an average of 3 hours 13 minutes per day watching live TV, plus an additional 3:15 on streaming TV.

While streaming has notable momentum, with 41 percent watching SVOD more often this year, the results indicate that 26 percent are watching live TV more frequently as well. The trend lines emerging over previous years continue, with younger viewers (18–34) streaming more content and viewers 35–54 more reliant on live linear TV.

For viewers 35–44, SmithGeiger noted TV reliance shifts to a larger amount of linear viewing (4:26) than streaming (3:38), but emphasized the considerable overlap — the “sweet spot” for local broadcasters — in TV and digital viewing.

In all, 67 percent depend on a combination of local TV and local digital platforms for their news and information. The pattern also holds for viewers’ reliance on broadcasters. Overall, 72 percent of adults 18–54 get their news and information from local TV stations via TV, their websites and news apps.

The majority of all age groups gets news and information each week from a broadcaster (59 percent of ages 18–24, 67 percent of ages 25–34, 75 percent of ages 35–44 and 81 percent of ages 45–54). A substantial area of agreement among all age groups: 53 percent believe local news programs are their most trusted source of news.

Broadcasters continue to carry an inordinate amount of importance for the audience, with nearly 75 percent now getting news and information from a broadcaster on TV, online or from a news app each week.

SmithGeiger President and co-founder Seth Geiger commented, “The broadcast industry may be anticipating a greater upheaval than the audiences themselves seem to indicate is happening, at least in the near term.”