Linear TV faces gradual decline, revealing age dynamics in consumer viewing habits

By Zion Rufus 

The gradual decline in linear TV (broadcast and cable) consumption, particularly among younger audiences, has been a prominent trend over the last decade.

Despite retaining its status as the most trusted medium, there’s a sense that this decline has accelerated in the past year.

According to WARC data, global linear TV ad spend experienced a 5.4% decrease in 2023, and WARC’s 2024 Marketer’s Toolkit reveals that only 18% of marketers globally plan to increase their investment in linear TV, with 39% planning to withdraw spend.

Surprisingly, actual time spent consuming TV only decreased by an average of 3 minutes daily (2.7%) in 2023. WARC Media projects a further decline of 2 minutes per day (1.9%) in 2024, maintaining that people will continue to spend more time with linear TV than streaming video, streaming music, or listening to podcasts.

Dave Campanelli, EVP/Chief Investment Officer at Horizon Media, noted that while there’s a perception that “linear is dead,” older viewers still engage with linear TV, representing 50% of the overall viewership.

As viewers and advertisers shift away from traditional linear broadcast television, Connected TV (CTV) emerges as a significant player.

The global advertising spend on CTV was projected to reach $25.9 billion in 2023, marking a 13.2% increase from the previous year. However, the anticipated CTV ad investment for 2023 stood at $26 billion globally, with an expected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.4% over the next five years.

Despite CTV’s growth, it is not attracting substantial new investments as expected. Its growth lags behind that of retail media, expanding at a rate three times slower. The decline in linear TV spend, especially in the United States, has led to a fragmentation of the advertising market on the ‘sell side,’ altering the economic dynamics of the television industry.

In Nigeria, CTV adoption remains relatively low, but experts see substantial potential, especially with major players like Netflix, Amazon, and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) creating environments conducive to CTV advertising.

While CTV’s growth is evident, challenges persist, including revenue influx, budget competition, and measurement and reach hurdles.

CTV media owners are also currently vying for a share of existing TV budgets rather than capturing a substantial portion from digital channels like social media.

The fragmented nature of the CTV landscape further complicates matters, particularly in terms of measurement and reach. Despite its ability to target specific audiences, CTV faces challenges associated with audience subscription fatigue and limited global adoption of smart TVs.


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