Who Says TV Is a Dying Medium?

by , Apr 12, 2012, 7:08 PM
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TV continues to evolve, not disappear 

It’s clear that the way we watch television and the very meaning of the word television have been radically altered over the past decade. After all, who needs to watch a big box at a particular time, in a particular place, when we have YouTube, digital recording devices and Hulu?

Consumers’ television habits have simply evolved with technology, and it has completely stretched the definition of what television programming actually is. It’s the very change in definition that has the business trades publishing goofy stories claiming “television is king” one week and crying “television is dying” the following week. The definition and the supporting metrics are drastically different, and it’s become difficult to have a serious, constructive conversation on the overall health of the industry.

What we do know is that the two simple words on demand have shattered the confidence in the long-term value proposition of television advertising. A true on-demand world for television means shifting consumer behavior from passive receptivity to active engagement on their time and terms. This is very different from what television has always been for me. The metrics in how the media is purchased and their effectiveness measures will be significantly different. It ultimately means a whole new thought process for doing business in the world of media. It’s all quite exciting when you think of what the evolution could actually look like for the industry.

But, while “on demand” is clearly a significant part of our future, there is a corresponding track that is also only going to continue to blossom and ultimately show “on demand” who’s the boss — it’s the power of live programming.

Sports, music, awards, politics, world news — our appetite for the “now” has only increased and will only become further accentuated through increases in social connectivity across global cultures. How could you not watch the Super Bowl live? Would you DVR the final episode of American Idol? Chances are, you won’t because the entertainment value of these events is directly proportional to their ability to be consumed live. DVRs don’t stand a chance against the power of the live experience, the real-time connective influence of Facebook and the range of social tools available to consumers. Because let’s face it: The second we log on to Facebook or Twitter, we will find the outcome.

As a marketer who works in the live-entertainment industry, we are always marketing moments that have to be experienced live, whether in theater, tourism or film. I can tell you firsthand, looking through the data, that when we map social activity and consumer buzz to live (in-person) experiences, the connection is so clear: People crave the live moment and use it as a vehicle to connect and share their excitement with their network.

I wish the narrative surrounding the future of television would begin to shift toward the need for content creators to begin to develop entertainment that is meant for the screen in which it is showed on. This is the single biggest challenge, and corresponding growth opportunity, that has landed in laps of the executives at the major networks — developing an entertaining, relevant and profitable content model that matches consumers’ fragmented media preferences.

The NFL is one of the few brands we should all look to that is truly pioneering the space by creating experiences designed for the destination. They maximize the platforms. Mobile is about speed; desktop is about access; and television is about the view. I think their ratings this past year and noted success in digital validate my strong admiration for them.

Like Betty White (who doesn’t love a Betty White reference!), the television platform is about to truly reinvent itself and evolve with the changing times and consumer needs. I’m just hoping it happens sooner rather than later because my mobile device is screaming for some good content!

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