Oh Say Can You See?

In a world of multiple screen options, I thought it would be interesting, not to mention patriotic, to see how Americans’ viewing moved between screens during the Fourth of July. While this Fourth may be part of a communist plot since it is on a Wednesday rather than a “red, white and too many hot dogs” Monday or Friday, I think we can draw insight from recent Fourths.

First off, it’s not surprising to see that movie going pops up during the Fourth, particularly if it is a long weekend. Looking at the early summer Mondays of June and July 2011, the Fourth of July pops out – although as the chart below shows, Memorial Day did even better.

Turning to a smaller screen – what happens with TV? There was a slight drop-off in viewership (a 3% decline in hours viewed) compared to other Mondays in 2011, but the interesting phenomenon was how viewing shifted. Americans know that it is their duty to sleep in late on the Fourth, in honor of all the places where “Washington slept here.” The chart below shows the change in viewing levels by time of day for Monday, July 4, 2011, compared to Tuesday through Friday of that week. The TV was switched on a little later, and there was less viewing at night as people went out to watch and blow up fireworks.

Like linear TV, On Demand viewing shows more of a shift within the format than an overall level change. VOD transactions were flat for the Fourth of July in 2011 compared to other early summer Mondays. However, there was a significant shift in type of VOD viewing. Transactions On Demand (TVOD), e.g. movies you pay for, increased their average share of VOD orders by 145%, and the amount of money spent on TVOD increased by 140%. Catching up on movies, either in the theater or at home, is part of the Fourth.

Two other screens also bear mention. First, internet streaming. Rentrak measures this on a custom basis for a major TV content provider. Last year, viewership dropped on the Fourth, but on the following Monday, when folks were back at work, viewership increased.

Finally, going back two years to take a look at some mobile viewership, in the summer of 2010, Rentrak measured the Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC’s) trial of live TV on mobile devices. In this case, the viewing did decline on Friday, July 4, but average length of views increased. Perhaps less commuting and work meant less views, but being at home offered a chance to view longer.

So this little snapshot of how viewership moves across screens on a weekday Fourth indicates more movie watching for theaters and VOD, a shift in time of day for linear TV, and less internet and mobile viewing.

Hope you had a great Fourth and you won the battle of the mustard stains. I lost. More thoughts in a week or so.

In case you don’t know, I am Bruce Goerlich, Chief Research Officer at Rentrak, the global standard in movie measurement and your TV Everywhere measurement and research company. I have been in the research end of the marketing business for more than 30 years primarily on the ad agency side, with my last stint prior to Rentrak in the role of President, Strategic Resources Zenith Optimedia North America. Somewhere along the way I morphed from young Turk to old fogey. Now that I have grey hair and am horizontally-challenged, I can speak with some authority on advertising and research issues – which I will do from time-to-time on this blog.

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One thought on “Oh Say Can You See?

  1. Interesting observations, Bruce. I’d be interested in seeing how viewing compares during the holiday week surrounding the 4th, vs. the rest of July. Likewise for other holiday periods.

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