Think with Google: Live TV vs. Online Video

Marketers used to target their ads to an audience that they knew would be watching TV for hours. This audience is now watching less and less television though. This group may be watching less TV, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not watching at all. The target audience that used to sit in front of the TV is now directing their attention toward online video.

According to, “one in three consumers say they’ve never had cable or no longer do.” This means that subscriptions with cable companies and the ads showed on cable channels are not being viewed like they used to. Online video and cable subscriptions are now competing for attention from the same audience.

The ease of watching online video is literally at people’s fingertips. It could be at work, home, school, a dorm room or anywhere else people use their smartphones. Popular websites and apps like YouTube are where audiences are going to watch online videos. Research from Google shows that, “in 2015, 18 to 49 year olds spent 4% less time watching TV, while time on YouTube went up 74%.”

The trend of watching online videos instead of TV can be related to factors like costs, content and accessibility. Cable companies use yearly contracts that bind customers to their service and YouTube is a free website that is powered by advertising. This means that before YouTube videos, viewers may have to watch a five second ad and occasionally, a minute-long ad may be played before whatever video that’s being watched.

When it comes to live television, the viewer does not have much control over what they get to watch. Viewers are subjected to various programming produced by TV networks and commercials that last around two to three minutes. Viewers cannot skip the commercials unless they plan ahead and prerecord the show they want to watch. When it comes to DVR, there is still fast forwarding and rewinding to deal with.

Using YouTube involves a search for whatever the desired content may be and a click of the play button. Fast forwarding and rewinding is an option, just like DVR, but this is all controlled with your mouse or fingertip. YouTube can be accessed on multiple platforms whether it be through the Web or through the app. People are watching YouTube on their smartphones, desktops and even the TV.

The target audience is still watching, but just in a different way. says for North American viewers, “by 2025, half of viewers under the age of 32 will not subscribe to a pay TV service.” More of the target audience is following the online video trend. They’re looking to YouTube and the advertisers that are using online video.

More stats from Google about the online video trend can be found on or here.

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