With more than half of North America expected to return to in-person learning there are a few back-to-school trends that will likely be different this year. More than half of back-to-school shoppers are expected to buy pens, pencils and stationery, while 44% plan on buying clothing, apparel and footwear. Shopping lists now span more categories; from uniforms and electronics to notebooks and three-ring binders, so it’s no surprise that deals and promotions are important to 68% of shoppers. Of note, 71% of U.S. shoppers are willing to wait more than two weeks to buy something, if they want to take advantage of a sale, deal or promotion. More than 50% of North American back-to-school shoppers say they’ll check for in-store inventory online before going into a store and 48% will shop at stores that offer curbside pickup or contactless shipping. (AdAge: 8/11/21)


In an early holiday shopping survey from Shopkick, 22% of shoppers plan to shop earlier this year, with 25% expected to do most of their shopping by Thanksgiving and 10% before Halloween. According to the survey, 43% of consumers plan to do their holiday shopping in person, which is up 9% from last year. Consumers felt the most important aspects of in-store shopping were the ability to try on, touch, and see physical products (70%) and in-person interactions with sales associates (41%); followed by product sampling (20%), complimentary gift wrapping (15%), and on-site events (13%). 94% of consumers said free shipping is the most crucial incentive for seasonal shopping online, followed by fast shipping (60%), flexible and long return policies (31%), the ability to buy now, pay later and BOPIS (19%). Consumers will continue to take advantage of deal days, with 61% percent reporting that they are planning to shop on Black Friday and 67% on Cyber Monday. (CSA: 8/5/21)


Nielsen has requested that the accreditation of its national TV rating service be put on “hiatus”. However the media measurement certification group, says final approval for the stoppage requires “further consideration” by the full MRC board. Of its 40,000 TV home sample panel for which national TV ratings are derived, Nielsen says it needs time to work on its “audit-related efforts on continuing to address panel concerns.” As background, the VAB has been vocal that this resulted in “unprecedented” declines in weekly-reach TV us. The MRC says that due to “the totality and the gravity of these issues,” the full MRC board needs to review Nielsen’s request. Nielsen also said the hiatus was intended to give it time to work on transforming all its national TV products to meet its clients needs, including its new Nielsen One service, which intends to offer clients total cross-platform measurement. (MediaPost: 8/12/21)


A study conducted by Hub Entertainment Research found that American COVID-19 viewing habits may be here to stay despite fewer pandemic restrictions and growing optimism. In a survey among 3,000 U.S. consumers, ages 14 to 74, taken in June 2021, half of the respondents said they’re watching the same amount of TV today compared to the height of the pandemic last year, and a third say they are watching more TV. Among those surveyed 40% have purchased Smart TVs during the pandemic with half of those purchasing their TVs after vaccinations were distributed. The Hub study also found that 38% of respondents prefer to stream mostly at home, while 36% will mostly go to the theatre and 26% will do both equally. (FierceVideo: 8/6/21)


New research from Ampere Analysis suggests ad-supported streaming services need to ramp up originals to attract younger, more affluent audiences. A quarter of US Internet users are now relying on a mix of Advertising-funded Video on Demand (AVOD) and Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) services for their entertainment, which is up from 15% in Q1 2020. In the study, older users (age 55-64) were the fastest growing age bracket of AVOD viewers, with a 7-percentage point increase in AVOD uptake among the group in the last year alone. Ampere’s analysis of catalog data also showed that SVOD services rely more heavily on original content while AVOD services focus on building up large libraries of content. AVOD players are starting to move into original programming to differentiate their catalogs and reduce reliance on licensed content, Ampere reported. (TVTech: 8/10/21)


Mayim Bialik and Mike Richards have been named as the new hosts of Jeopardy! Richards will kick off Season 38 as the full-time host of the syndicated show, and Bialik will serve as the host of the Jeopardy! primetime and spinoff series, including the upcoming all-new National College Championship. Season 38 production in mid-August, with new episodes launching on September 13, 2021. ( 8/11/21)