Comcast Spotlight Finds TV Viewing at Two-Year High

Comcast subscribers watch a lot of TV. In fact, after three quarters of decline, they watched more TV, both live and on-demand, during the first quarter of 2019.

According to a new report from Comcast Spotlight, the cable operator’s local advertising unit, the first-quarter increase follows declines in the second, third and fourth quarters of 2018.

Spotlight found that viewing in Comcast homes in the first quarter was at a two-year high, with households spending six hours and 25 minutes watching daily, up 6% from 6:04 a year ago. There were 5:32 hours of live TV watched, up from 5:19 a year ago and VOD and DVR use increased to 53 minutes from 45 minutes.

Spotlight also wants advertisers to know Comcast subscribers watch a lot of cable. It also wants advertisers to know that it has a lot of data about what subscribers watch and what they’re likely to buy.

The first quarter TV Viewership Report is based on insights from more than 17 million Comcast households in 65 markets and about 9 billion hours of viewing during the quarter.

“This is the first time that Comcast Spotlight has published such a comprehensive report on television viewing trends, and it couldn’t come at a better time. TV viewership has changed dramatically over the past five years, and we need to ensure that advertisers understand these new viewing patterns so they can plan and execute the most effective media campaigns,” said Brendan Condon, chief revenue officer of Comcast Spotlight.

The report found that cable network viewing was up 7% and accounted for 65% of total viewing, with broadcast at 30% and premium channels 5%. VOD viewing was up 36% from last year, and has doubled since 2016.

Among Comcast households, 79% watched VOD in the third quarter. They watched 100,000 VOD titles each month, up from 52,000 in 2016.

Comcast subscribers watch a lot of channels. There were 308 different “most watched” networks in Comcast households, and the average household watched 34 networks.

In an era when more advertisers are looking to use data to direct their advertising to more precisely targeted audience segments, Spotlight said its data is substantial and granular.

For example, in Pittsburgh, Comcast draws viewing information from 390,000 households, far more than the traditional ratings sources.

When looking at a specific audience segment, such as people in-market for a new mid-size car, Spotlight said it can draw on insights from more than 61,000 homes.

Spotlight said it looked at more than 900 data-driven local zone-level campaigns and found that it was able to achieve 15% increase in reach without sacrificing frequency.

The report included a case study featuring an auto dealer looking to reach new car intenders. The deal had been buying only a few networks during evening hours. The dealer increased investment by 22% and used a data-driven approach using 42 networks and running spots through the whole day.

Spotlight said the campaign achieved nearly double the reach among new vehicle intenders, with the average target viewer seeing two commercials, up from 1.5 in the previous campaign.

For that 22% boost in spending, impressions among the target audience rose 153%.

“People today have countless options when it comes to content, distribution and access, and that’s driven important viewing changes that marketers need to understand. We show advertisers how to augment their TV strategies with data-driven, content-agnostic planning, which often leads them in a new direction, to more networks and expanded dayparts,” said Andrea Zapata, VP, research and insights, Comcast Spotlight. “With the proper insights, advertisers can find audiences wherever and whenever they are watching and continue to drive phenomenal results.”

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.