A woman sneaks away from her desk to watch All My Children. A man spends his Saturday afternoon in a bar watching college football. Which person better typifies out-of-home TV viewing? The woman, judging from new Nielsen research on out-of-home viewing. Commissioned by the Network Television Association – the trade group for ABC, CBS and NBC – the study finds 78% of out-of-home viewing by women age 18-49 occurs in the workplace; and among women in that age bracket, ratings for soap operas are 7% higher when out-of-home viewing is included. As for out-of-home weekend sports viewing by men age 18-34, 42% occurs at colleges while another 26% occurs in the workplace, versus 22% at bars/restaurants. In short, while out-of-home viewing may or may not be a hidden boon for advertisers, it’s plainly a blight on the nation’s work and study habits. Some 28 million adults are regular out-of-home viewers, and their average weekly viewing time away from home amounts to 5 hours, 49 minutes. Are ad agencies happy to learn that all these people are seeing commercials after all? No – they’re aghast at the implication they should be paying higher rates to account for these extra viewers. So agency media people are quick to insist that people who watch TV away from the peace and quiet of their own homes can’t be paying all that much attention, in which case they don’t really belong in the audience totals anyway. It’s a line of argument that must be pursued in a gingerly way, as it’s in the interest of neither networks nor agencies to start advertisers wondering whether TV viewers are paying all that much attention when they watch at home, either.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)