I can't say that I'm any different than the trend. My television viewing patterns are far from what would be considered the norm. I watch late-night TV on Saturday afternoons and catch up on prime-time shows at midnight. I watch the news all day long, usually as it's unfolding. TV consumption is becoming so unstructured.
This theme is putting a lot of pressure on planners to think long and hard about how the Web is affecting television viewing and the impact these pattern shifts will have on future planning. It's a topic of high importance, considering that television still accounts for the majority ad spend among top consumer brands.
So where's the disconnect? If consumers are moving their consumption to digital platforms, shouldn't we as advertisers be following them there? Isn't it just that simple?
It made a lot of sense to advertise on television, because that's where the bulk of consumers could be found. They were a captive audience well positioned to consume your product messaging in the lulls between their favorite prime-time shows. There were no on-demand options, so consumers had no choice but to adapt their schedules to the ones already decided for them by networks.
The sharp reality is that those consumers are now increasingly splitting their time between traditional television consumption and the Web. Not only are they venturing online for work, banking and information, they are now going online to consume their home entertainment, too. DVRs are certainly contributing to this as well.
Will our generation be the one to witness the death of prime time?
I believe that there will always be some regularity and predictability to the way we consume content. And in some cases, it will come out of necessity. Take a sports fan. You're always going to want to watch the Super Bowl live so that you know, second-by-second, who's winning with the rest of the world. Or take "American Idol," a prime-time show that continues to hold up well in the ratings.
We just need to look at those consumption patterns a little differently, for what was true yesterday is not true today. The old definition of prime time may be losing its relevance. Surely prime-time audiences will still exist; they are simply becoming more fragmented.
The way I see it, the concept of a fixed "prime time" will be replaced by a new, more fluid, "personal prime time" which is well aligned with the way consumers interact with media today. We are very much active participants in the way we consume content today. We feel entitled to decide how, where and when we should be able to access content. We don't want to be tied to a fixed programming schedule. We want to define a programming schedule that works around our own personal timetables. We don't want to conform, we want customization. We don't want to wait, we want instant gratification.
Like any type of change, isn't it more one's failure to adapt to it than the change itself, that can cause harm?
What do you think? Sound off in the comments. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the topic.