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This is Class 3 where we will learn about Viewing Experience. In case you missed it, catch up on previous classes. 

The TV landscape is complex and constantly evolving. From the days of only broadcast and cable to today’s variety of advanced TV offerings, it is a challenge to keep up with the latest terminology. With a growing interest in ways technology can bring brands and audiences closer together, media buyers are left to figure out how it all works. To help you navigate this complex ecosystem, we’ve broken out the core elements of the TV landscape into a six-part series we’re calling TV Ad Tech 101.  

Viewing experience refers to how audiences engage with content. In today’s TV landscape, the main ways of viewing TV are live linear – which is how you would watch TV on broadcast or cable, and on-demand – which includes addressable STB (smart TVs), VOD (video on demand), and DVR (digital video recorder). Viewing experience differs from media type and delivery device & method because the only thing you need to consider with viewing experience is whether the content is viewed live, in real-time, or after an original air date, on-demand.  

Now you may be wondering, what makes a viewing experience ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for audiences? However, the answer is more complex as there are pros and cons to all viewing experiences. To help explain the importance of viewing experience, below are a few examples of how it impacts ad placement.  

Examples of Viewing Experience 

Live Sports 
When it comes to viewing experience, there are few categories of TV that attract engaged audiences better than live sports. And the ads that run during games, matches, and playoffs offer advertisers prime exposure to these attentive viewers. Its why advertisers pay a premium to have their ads placed during major sports moments like the Super Bowl, March Madness and the U.S. Open. Due to its live, in-the-moment nature, TV is one of the best ways to capitalize on these highly engaged sports audiences. In a recent interview on sports viewership, VAB’s Jason Wiese emphasized this point saying, “…linear TV has most of the viewership and OTT is complimentary to that.” 

Nightly News 
Watching the nightly news can be a ritual – amplified by the comfort of anchors you know talking about the local issues you care about. As a result, local news offers a unique viewing experience and can create a halo effect of trust when an ad is placed during the news program. For others, watching the news is a new part of their daily routine. In fact, in 2020, viewership for network local affiliate news stations increased by 4% in both the evening and late night time slots. While some of this may be attributed to 2020 being an election year, trends have shown that interest in TV news, especially local broadcast, is here to stay. 

Primetime vs. On-Demand 
Primetime TV shows continue to draw large audiences, despite recent declines. Simultaneously, the line between programs available on live linear and through VOD or streaming services also continues to blur. However, viewing experience for TV on-demand is considerably different than tuning into a show every week at 8 p.m. Commercials on linear TV are typically viewed on a TV screen. Commercials on VOD platforms are viewed on TV screens, laptops, mobile phones and other devices. Live linear TV plays from start to finish, with planned breaks for advertisements. VOD can be stopped and started by the viewer.  

Why It Matters 

While these are only a few instances of how viewing experience impacts TV and consequently, TV advertising, they demonstrate why it is vital to take viewing experience into consideration when creating an ad campaign. Yet viewing experience is only one of many factors that changes how audiences consume your ad. Differences in viewing experience, content, media types, and devices all impact how your campaign is received by consumers. It is each interconnected piece that makes up the complete TV landscape.  

For a full rundown of the TV Landscape, download our new infographic.

Be sure to come back next week for Class 4 of TV Ad Tech 101, where you’ll learn all about Media Types.