Archive for October, 2014


This year’s media campaigning is on track to be the most expensive midterm election ever. The Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) projects that by the time the polls close on Tuesday, November 4, the candidates and parties alone will have spent $2.7 billion on the congressional and state races. The independent groups are expected to spend nearly $900 million, which is impressive compared to the $1.3 billion they spent in 2012 when there was a hyper-expensive presidential election as well. That all adds up to $3.93 billion—an increase of $333 million from the 2010 midterm election.

CRP projects a slight edge in spending for the Republican side. In all, the GOP, its candidates and conservative-leaning outside groups are projected to spend at least $1.92 billion. Democrats, their party and liberal-leaning outside groups are projected to spend at least $1.76 billion. CRP based its projections on spending totals reported to the Federal Election Commission through June 30 or August 31, depending on which FEC filing schedule each filer used. CRP also notes that there are some “issue ads” that don’t have to be reported to the FEC as election advertising.

With the hotly contested battle for control of the U.S. Senate going down to the wire, CRP calculates that Super PACs and other outside groups are spending $19.4 million per day. So far the liberal groups have spent $308.9 million and the conservative groups $327.1 million. But with heavy spending in the final days of the campaign, CRP is projecting that the liberals will finish slightly ahead in the dollar tally—spending $433 million to the conservatives’ $424 million.


Millennials (ages 18-34) are changing the way video is consumed, but they still watch a lot of traditional television, according to The U.S. Total Video Report from comScore. And while they watch a lot of television programming, they don’t always watch on a traditional television screen. 83% said they had watched TV programming on a TV screen in the past month, which was the lowest percentage for any age demo. But 44% said they had watched original TV programming on a computer screen, 49% on a tablet and 31% on a smartphone. In each case those were the highest percentages for any age demo.

By viewing platform, Millennials said they spent about 66% of their TV viewing time watching on a traditional TV screen. The computer screen was next at 19%, followed by tablet and smartphone, each at 6%. As the groups got older the percentage for the traditional TV screen was higher: 84% for people 35-54; and 90% for people 55-plus.

About one in six Millennials, however, said they did not watch any original TV series on a traditional TV set within the previous month. The survey found that Millennials are significantly more likely to watch TV content from an Internet-connected device (such as Roku, Apple TV or Google Chromecast) or via a gaming console (such as Xbox or PlayStation). 32% of Millennials reported watching streaming TV content via an Internet-connected TV device and 25% via a gaming console or Blu-Ray player.

The comScore study also found more evidence of cord-cutting and cord-shaving (subscribing to cheaper, limited cable channel packages). Millennials were significantly more likely than their older counterparts to not subscribe to pay TV services. In fact, 18-34-year-olds were 77% more likely than average to be a “cord-never” household, having never subscribed to pay-TV, and 67% more likely than average to be a “cord-cutter” household. Those between the ages of 35-54 are slightly more likely than average to be “cord-cutters” while those age 55-plus are significantly less likely than average not to have pay-TV.

Millennials were 22% less likely to subscribe to a pay TV service, while people 35-54 were right in line with the overall average and those 55-plus over-indexed by four percentage points. It’s not that Millennials aren’t willing to pay for video. They over-indexed for subscriptions to Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and Hulu Plus.

As you would expect, people who subscribe to a paid digital streaming service are more likely than non-subscribers to engage in binge viewing—watching multiple episodes of a TV program at a single sitting. Surprisingly, though, viewing via an Internet-connected TV device ranked third for binge viewing at 12%. Tops was binge viewing on a traditional TV screen via DVR at 43%, followed by video-on-demand on a TV screen at 19%. 11% did binge viewing on live TV, which would include linear TV marathons.


For all the talk about second screen involvement, fewer than one in five (18%) people online follow the show they’re watching on TV via Twitter, according to a report from global consulting firm Strategy Analytics. And within that group of online viewers there are distinctly different groups in terms of how they make use of a second screen.

Traditional TV viewers, dubbed “couch potatoes” in the report, are the largest segment but only account for one third (33%) of people online who watch TV. Very focused on TV when watching it, they never phone or text people about what they’re watching and hardly ever use social media. None of this group uses Twitter trending topics or hashtags on a weekly basis to follow a show they’re watching.

The next biggest group, “OTTers”—accounting for one in four (26%) people—are less interested in TV, being the most likely to go 24 hours without watching it. They prefer to watch shows via online or “over-the-top” services; 95% of OTTers watch a TV show they missed on a computer, tablet or smartphone.

“Couch chatterers” account for 12% of TV viewers. They’re similar to couch potatoes but are 2.5x more likely than the average person online (90% vs. 37%) to phone or text others about what they’re watching on TV. As with couch potatoes, none of this group use Twitter to follow a show they’re watching but are much more likely to be using another device (80%) when watching TV than the average viewer (65%).

The research finds that three in ten people are “multi-screeners,” however, they use devices in different ways so are split into three groups. “Indifferent” and “moderate” multi-screeners each account for one in nine (11%) people online who watch TV. “Indifferent multi-screeners” are the least interested in TV of all six groups, 83% use another device while watching TV and they’re highly likely (84%) to phone or text people about what they’re watching, 91% use Twitter to follow a show.

Almost half (45%) of “Moderate multi-screeners” TV viewing is done on computers, tablets or smartphones and  90% go online if they’ve missed a show. However, they’re the second most likely (66%) to have a pay TV subscription. They’re extremely likely to phone/text (93%) about a show but only 1% use Twitter on a weekly basis to follow a show.

“Manic multi-screeners” account for just 7% of people. Along with indifferent multi-screeners (51%) they’re the only group where over half (55%) of TV viewing is conducted on other devices, however, they’re still the most likely (74%) to have a pay TV subscription. They’re the most likely to use another device while watching TV (97%), the most likely (96%) to phone/text about a show and to use Twitter weekly to follow a show (100%).


September auto sales were up 9% to 1.25 million—another strong month that was only slightly below analyst projections. The seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of sales was 16.4 million, down from the red-hot 17.5 million rate for August and shy of the 16.5 million mark that analysts had expected.

Some auto companies, however, beat projections, while others had a slump month. Chrysler Group, in particular, beat expectations with a 19% jump to 169,890 units. The Jeep brand saw sales shoot up 47%, led by the hot-selling Cherokee (pictured). Along with SUVs, pickups were big sellers, so the Ram brand rose 35%. The Chrysler nameplate was up 14% and Fiat 6%, while Dodge was down 9%.

General Motors was also up 19%, beating expectations by a bit, at 223,437 million units sold in September. Pickups powered the advance, with GMC up 28% and Chevrolet (including both cars and light trucks) up 20%. Buick was up 12% and Cadillac was flat.

Making it a trio of 19% gains was Nissan, whose U.S. sales totaled 102,955. The Nissan brand was up 22%, but Infiniti down 13%.

The biggest gainers of all were much smaller car companies. Subaru has posted sales gains for 34 straight months and September sales were up 31% to 41,517. Mitsubishi continued its comeback in the U.S. market with a 39% year-over-year gain for September, although that only brought sales to 5,558. Whether it’s the beginning of a turnaround remains to be seen, but Volvo sales were up 11% in September to 4,667, although they remain down 9% for the year to date.

Back to the major car makers: Ford Motor Company came in below expectations with sales down 3% to 179,518. Lincoln was up 13%, but Ford down 3%. One reason is that Ford has shut down one of the two assembly lines for its F-Series pickups to retool for the aluminum-body 2015 model, so F-Series sales in September were down 1% while its pickup competitors took advantage of the short-supplies at Ford dealers. Toyota Motor Company was up, but also below expectations, with a gain of 2% to 167,279. Lexus was up 12%, but Toyota only 1%, with Scion down 19%.

American Honda was up 12% to 118,223, with Acura up 19% and Honda up 11%. Hyundai Group rose 4% to 96,638, with Kia up 7% and Hyundai 2%.

While the corporate leadership of Volkswagen AG in Germany has vowed to double U.S. sales of the Volkswagen brand in the next few years, September was another month moving in the opposite direction. Overall group sales were down 7% to 44,756, with VW down 19% and Bentley off 7%. Porsche gained 17% and Audi 14%.

The other German car makers were both up. Daimler AG sales gained 10% to 30,271, with Smart up 20% and Mercedes-Benz 10%. BMW Group rose 3% to 29,880, with BMW up 9%, Rolls-Royce up 6% and Mini down 21%.

Mazda’s September sales gained 7% to 23,980. Jaguar Land Rover was down 10% to 4,248, with Jaguar down 13% and Land Rover down 8%.

Through the first nine months of 2014 U.S. car and light truck sales are up 6% to 12.4 million. Next year is looking good as well. Ford executives told Wall Street this week that U.S. sales by all auto makers may top 17 million in 2015—something that hasn’t happened since 2001.