The demise of TV has been a topic of agency discussion for well over 25 years. One of our Group Directors, as a young media planner at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, authored a report in the mid-’90s called The Death of TV, or Is It?. The European Media Leaders’ Summit also issued an insightful report The Death of Linear TV: Exaggerated, Imminent, or Simply Premature?… published 13 years ago, all the way back in 2007.

While the industry continues to discuss the demise of “traditional” TV as we know it, has anyone bothered to share this information with the top streaming video services looking to gain awareness and viewers? If so, based on recently reported spending within the “dying” medium, the streaming services are not listening.

The biggest streaming platforms — Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Disney+, HBO, Hulu, and Sling TV, collectively spent half a billion dollars on “traditional” TV and Cable platforms in the past three years.

The most recent 12-month period represents the highest TV and Cable spend to date at $252MM, a 137% increase over the previous 12-month period.

When one looks at total OTT category spending, the figures are even more impressive. An iSpot.tv report released in February of 2020 estimated that total OTT spending in National TV was as high as $550MM from November of 2019 through February of 2020.

Streaming advertisers continue to join in on National TV activity, even with the pandemic. Those who added National TV activity to their mix for the first time during the first half of 2020 include AT&T TV, Quibi, Peacock, and HBO Max, who collectively spent about $90MM during their first advertising foray into the medium at the beginning of this year according to a recent VAB report.

This might resonate for anyone who watched the Emmy Awards on Linear TV in September and recall seeing any number of streaming advertisers in the Primetime show including Peacock, Apple+, HBO Max, Showtime, Hulu, Disney+, and Amazon Prime - just to name a few.

And it is not just the streaming services who are in on the game. According to MoffettNathanson Research, big brand technology companies like Amazon, Alphabet, Apple, Microsoft, eBay, and Facebook spent an estimated 20% of their media budgets on television in 2019.

So what is the secret? Why dump so much money, effort, and messaging into a decaying dinosaur of a medium that nobody watches? Could it be, perhaps, that there is a large audience still watching?

Sure enough, the numbers prove that most Americans are still spending the majority of their free time watching TV the old-fashioned way. While industry reports tend to focus on the increased growth of streaming video viewing, which is correct, the reports tend to offer little in context on the size of the growing streaming audience versus the size of the shrinking TV audience.

According to Nielsen, as of Q2 2020, streaming comprised one-fourth of all television minutes viewed. True? Yes. Impressive? Maybe. However, the flip side gives some additional context: Live+Time Shifted TV still comprises 75% of all television minutes viewed. That’s nearly 4 hours and 30 minutes per day for the average A18+, compared to 1 hour and 6 minutes of streaming.

As eMarketer recently reported, this year 86.1 million US households will have Pay TV/vMVPD, a 5.9% year-over-year decrease. Even with this decrease Pay TV/vMVPD households remain double that of Non-Pay TV/vMVPD households. And, looking ahead to 2024, it is projected that Pay TV/vMVPD will still be in 33% more households than Non-Pay TV/vMVPD.

And audience size matters. According to Nielsen, as of Q1 2020 Live + Time-Shifted TV reaches 85% of A18+ on a weekly basis, compared with 49% reach for an Internet-Connected Device. TV remains the dominant video platform to maximize reach.

The emerging content platforms that the industry claims are going to be the death of traditional television continue to build and promote their brands and programming the good old-fashioned way. If TV helped build awareness for Disney+, who is estimated to hit 72.4 million US monthly viewers in 2020, just think what it can do for your brand message.