Marketing Trends

The high school graduates of May 2018 are about to move into their college dorm rooms, and many won’t be taking a TV with them. This year’s university freshmen don’t watch TV and don’t use TVs. Instead, they watch prepackaged video content, on demand, and on their laptops and phones.

In my survey of 36 new freshmen, all who are recent high school graduates ready to move into college community housing without their snoopy parents, 39% said they do not expect a TV in their college housing room. Fifty-six percent of female students surveyed won’t have a TV in their room. In a world of big high-definition televisions, these sharp-eyed young adults gravitate to the small screen. More than three fourths (77%) expect to spend most of their video-watching time on a laptop or desktop computer. Another 20% prefer their mobile phone, and only 3% rely primarily on a traditional or smart TV. Nobody watches video on their tablet or iPad.

We’re seeing a major shift not only in device preference, but in content selection as well. The new collegians are not watching live or same-day video. Eight-six percent of all surveyed and 94% of females say more than three-fourths of what they watch is not live and did not just become available that day. A study of viewing habits from 2017 showed teens spent 34% of their video time watching YouTube, 27% watching Netflix, and 14% watching live TV. Young people spend about twice as much time watching Netflix as live TV, and even more time on YouTube

They’re watching YouTube and Netflix on their laptops.  

Broadcast and cable networks rely heavily on live sports to capture a real-time audience, especially during October when Major League Baseball reaches its crescendo and all forms of football are at full throttle. But only half of the rising college freshmen surveyed said they expect to watch 3 or more hours of live sports during the whole month of October. That’s not even one full college game. Whoa, Nellie, Keith Jackson, what happened to the young’uns?

There are big differences between men and women in this narrow age group. Seventy-eight percent of males plan to watch at least three hours of live sports in October, whereas only 22% of females expect to spend this much time viewing live games. And don’t forget about the game consoles like Xbox and PS4. None of the 18 females surveyed expect to have a game box in their room, while half the young men are planning to squeeze in some Fortnite or FIFA between study sessions. As a side note, those game consoles can also stream video services like Netflix, if you don’t mind using the clunky controller that’s better suited for Madden NFL 19.

The pipelines of content aren’t what they used to be. Only 23% of those surveyed expect to plug a cable into their TV.  Only 11% of males and no females will have a Blu-ray or DVD player. When they actually use “a real TV,” these young adults rely on smart TVs and over-the-top streaming devices such as Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, and Google Chromecast. With wall-to-wall WiFi on modern college campuses, we don’t need no stinkin’ cable.

I didn’t ask if anyone planned to use a TV antenna. I wonder if they know what one is.

Blair Paris Connor

A vision of TV’s future? The college class of 2022. They were born in 1999 and 2000.  They’re changing the face of a medium we used to call Television, which we ought to start calling Video.

Survey Response Stats

Total Respondents: 36

Females: 18

Males: 18

All data collected August 9-11, 2018


TV or Not TV?

Will have a TV in their room 61% (78% of males; 44% of females)

Won’t have a TV in their room 39%


Device Most Used for Watching Video

Laptop or Desktop Computer 77% (82% of females; 72% of males)

Mobile Phone 20% (22% of males; 18% of females)

Traditional or Smart TV 3% (6% of males; 0% of females)

Tablet or iPad 0%


Content Delivery Device Expectations (Multiple Responses Allowed)

Smart TV Apps 46% (56% of males; 35% of females)

Streaming Device 43% (53% of females; 33% of males)

Game Console 26% (50% of males; 0% of females)

Cable  23% (29% of females; 17% of males)

Blu-ray or DVD player 6% (11% of males; 0% of females)


Live/Same Day Content

More than 75% of what I watch is NOT live and did NOT just become available that day  86% (94% of females; 78% of males)

25-50% of what I watch is NOT live and did NOT just become available that day   9%

Less than 25% of what I watch is NOT live and did NOT just become available that day  6%


Live Sports October 2018 Viewing Expectations

3+ Hours 50% (78% of males; 22% of females)

Less than 3 Hours 50%


© Paul Sage – Sage Advice, LLC – 11 August 2018



The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”                                                                                – Henry David Thoreau

I have spent too much of my life waiting at the Kroger deli counter.  A fortnight of quiet desperation and longing for my Private Selection Honey Turkey to be sliced at 1.5 thickness. It has always been a dreaded task, especially during peak shopping hours.  A necessary sacrifice of time to get the good stuff. Prepackaged meat never tastes the same.

My wait is over. Kroger’s self-service, touch-screen deli ordering system. Kroger must have taken a took a cue from the queueless – the Fastpass® system that’s made visits to Disney theme parks so much more efficient and enjoyable.

fastpass roger r

Kroger’s process is very similar to getting a place in line at a Disney World ride.  You enter your order in detail, you get a ticket, you come back fifteen minutes later, and wham-bam there it is, sitting in a wicker basket with your number on it. The greatest thing since sliced pastrami.

deli ticket

Kroger Deli Order station 2013-12-05
Cross Sell Cheese2

Kroger has smartly included a cross-selling function. When I ordered turkey, Kroger pitched me some Swiss cheese. I almost took them up on it. Maybe next time. And there will be a next time. This is how I roll now.

On the busy, pre-ice-storm day I was at Kroger, I seemed to be the only one taking advantage of this automated ordering system. Other shoppers stacked themselves two-deep, ignoring the new process and loudly repeating their desires for meat and cheese across the glass case to the deli staff. Good service includes self-service. It takes time for customers to catch on to that.

My order was there on time and Kroger even attached a $1-off coupon.  Who said you can't have "Good, Fast and Cheap" all at the same time?  Oh yeah, I did.

My order was there on time and Kroger even attached a $1-off coupon. Who said you can’t have “Good, Fast and Cheap” all at the same time? Oh yeah, I did.

With the college national championship behind us and only eight teams remaining in the NFL playoffs, followers of American football are now fixing their eyes on February 3rd, Super Bowl Sunday. 

CBS has already sold out its inventory at an average price of around $3.7 million per 30-second spot (is that net or gross, might I ask?).   That’s right – over $7 million a minute.

Is it worth it?  In an era of retweeting, rehashing and reality imitating art ad nauseam, perhaps it is worth it now more than ever.  As long as the advertiser gives us something to tweet or Facebook or LinkIn about.  When done right, a Super Bowl ad can generate endless “free” repetition, replay on cable news, podcast chatter and social media buzz.

Remember the irreverent, unleashed wildness of the 2000 Super Bowl ads at the height of the dot-com boom, when E-Trade’s spot with a cha-cha-ing chimp boasted “We just wasted two million dollars.  What are you doing with your money?”

E-Trade chimp

Thirteen years later the price of a Super Bowl spot has nearly doubled and the opportunities for exposure through social media have gone from zero to everybody.   I’m expecting some killer work from big brands on February 3rd.  If you’re like me, you’ll get up to get your favorite food and beverage only at certain moments of the game – when they’re actually playing football.

NM Target

Neiman Marcus and Target?   Denny’s and “The Hobbit” movie?   And here in my hunting-crazy state,  a local jeweler and Benelli shotguns.  We’re seeing brands paired up that don’t seem to go together at first blush, but maybe that’s the point.  Maybe this is a way to stretch the public perception of a brand by knocking down old mental fences and letting new associations develop.  

Diamond and Shotgun