As Viewing Rose, Attention Fell, TVision Report Finds

HGTV's 'House Hunters International' was tops in ad viewability (Image credit: HGTV)

Television viewing soared as people stayed indoors to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but the attention they paid to what they were watching fell, according to a first-half report from research company TVision.

TVision found that while, for example daytime TV usage jumped by 77%, viewability decreased by 1.5% and viewer attention dropped by 3.7%.

Linear TV’s share of screen time shrunk during the first half of the year, while average daily consumption of streaming services like Netflix doubled. Those services already scored high in co-viewing and individual viewer attention.

“Ad wear-out is a real thing,” the report said. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic provided a rare opportunity to study the controversial topic of ad wear-out. Almost overnight, a large pool of ads with essentially the same message appeared across multiple brands and on multiple networks. Although the ads initially outperformed the average, TVision’s analysis showed that viewer Attention decreased by 13% over 10 weeks — again, irrespective of the brand, according to the report. “To retain viewer attention, marketers need to refresh their creative more frequently.”

In particular, TVision noted that as the quarantine wore on viewers went from being engaged by ads with COVID-19 messages to tuning them out, with attention dropping by 13% from the week of March 1 to the week of May 17.

TVision said the top show for ad viewability in the first half was HGTV’s House Hunters International. It was followed by CBS’s FBI, Bravo’s Real Housewives of New Jersey, HGTV’s House Hunters, TLC’s My Feet Are Killing Me and CBS’s Carol’s Second Act.

In terms of ad attention, CBS’s Young Sheldon made the biggest bang, followed by CBS’s The Unicorn, Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New Jersey, CBS’s FBI and ABC’s The Connors.

Among streaming shows, Netflix series 100 Humans season one, Fauda season three, Brews Brothers season one and Unorthodox season one scored the highest.

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power season five had the highest binge rate, followed by Hulu’s Letterkenny season three and Netflix’s  The I-Land season one and Blown Away season one.

Ads that broke through with the highest Creative Attention Scores in the first half were for Colgate, Progressive, BlueCross BlueShield and Coca-Cola.

Campaigns for Bausch & Lomb and Samsung uniquely scored among the leaders in both attention and viewability.

'The Last Dance' drew attention for its sponsors.

'The Last Dance' drew attention for its sponsors. (Image credit: ABC)

With live sports being benched by the pandemic, ESPN rushed to get The Last Dance, the documentary about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls on the air. TVision said that was a good deal for sponsors, including State Farm, Facebook and Manscaped because ad attention was above average for each of the episodes.

TVision also released data for July. The top cable shows for ad viewability were TLC’s Counting On, USA’s Chrisley Knows Best, BET’s American Soul, HGTV’s House Hunters International and National Geographic’s The Incredible Dr. Pol.

Among broadcast shows, the leader in ad viewability were ABC’s NBA Countdown, ABC’s United We Fall, CBS’s The Greatest #AtHome Videos, ABC’s Holey Moley II: The Sequel, The CW’s Whose Line Is It Anyway and CBS’s Tough As Nails.

The OTT shows generating the highest attention indexes were Marcella Season 3 on Netflix, Expecting Amy Season 1 on Netflix, The Last Dance on Netflix, Absentia on Amazon Prime Video and The Twelve on Netflix.

The top ad was Yoga for Skrizi, based on TVision's Creative Attention Score.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.