It may soon be the end of TV as we know it. But how will we know when it happens? We’ll need a commercial or reality show to tell us.
In the 1990s, due to the coming of interactive TV and to a lesser extent cable, many predicted the 30-second commercial would die. There were also eulogies for traditional TV.
Some two decades later, TV is still around and overall viewership keeps climbing. According to analyst Brian Wieser, average viewership has grown to 34 hours a week in the 2010-2011 season from 29 hours a week in 1999-2000.
Business Insider’s Henry Blodget says no one likes to see commercials, and that will be one of the reasons traditional TV comes to an end. Other reasons, he says, are that no one watches “networks” and that the percentage of people who watch at least some online video online is higher than those who watch some traditional TV.
Wieser says overall TV consumption has grown by approximately 40% with only 7% of it eroded by DVRs. Many more people watch commercials – or partial commercials – then they let on. Wieser also notes that a global survey that only focuses on online consumers is “functionally useless.”
Just observing the broadcast networks over the last few years, their erosion of 18-49 gross ratings points has slowed to a trickle; it is now just 1% or so in Nielsen C3 ratings. About the same erosion levels were observed in 25-54 gross ratings points. Is that just a data glitch in an overall trend?
We were saying the same thing 20 years ago: “TV is over.” Were we just whistling down the graveyard then -- and now?
Blodget says that, with all the alternatives like Netflix, Amazon, iTunes and Hulu Plus, why do consumers need networks when we can get everything we want? That’s the wrong question. What he should be asking is: “How do we know what we want?”
Right now, if we miss an episode of “Modern Family,” “Big Bang Theory” or “Grey’s Anatomy,” we can probably do a search to find those shows on the Web or on specific platforms.
In the future, what, exactly, will we be asking for? Please give me a complex, enthralling medical drama with a rich back story and deeply flawed characters”? I don’t think so.
The digital world may like to tout ‘discovery’. But will this go for premium TV/video content – or just for gorillas on roller skates? We now ask for “Grey’s Anatomy” because we have seen it on traditional TV.
Death of TV? What happens after that? No one has figured out a real replacement, which is why the real media dollars -- some $70 billion strong -- keeps things very alive for traditional television.