Can Today's TV/Digital Divide Take A Lesson From Past Media Evolutions?

Decades ago, media agencies separated television into neat compartments.

For example, some agencies had separate media buying positions for broadcast networks, syndication and cable -- sometimes called “new media.” There were glaring differences between the three when it came to coverage of U.S. TV homes, time periods of shows, and, of course, how ratings were derived for each.

Back then (and even today), you could also find production companies that made shows specifically with cable, network, or syndication in mind. Did viewers know the difference?  Did they know they were watching a cable show or a syndicated show?

Now Comedy Central says it is eliminating its “digital” department.“We’ve dismantled the department formerly known as ‘digital’ to create an organization that better serves our fans and advertisers,” the network’s president, Michele Ganeless, said in a press release. “Our fans don’t use the word ‘digital’ to talk about content and now, neither do we.”



But they do use words like “tablet,” “laptop,” “mobile phone” and “TV.” And when accessing each one, viewers can be doing different things with content.

The differences between digital and traditional TV are also diminishing at various rates in such areas as advertising, measurement and marketing.

Earlier, there were also big differences in how advertisers valued different TV platforms. This attitude has diminished, due to many first-run cable dramas and reality shows, as well as first-run syndicated talk shows.

Watching -- or, dare I say, “engaging” with --  a piece of digital video is increasingly similar to the traditional TV experience. For example, full episodes of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” run on

But viewers who want to see the latest episode of “Daily Show” as soon as possible need to watch a traditional TV screen.

Proclamations by media companies give a clear picture of where they want to go. But the current digital-versus-traditional-TV reality for viewers and advertisers still isn’t an exact science. They may not call it “digital,” but they do know it has a different value.

1 comment about "Can Today's TV/Digital Divide Take A Lesson From Past Media Evolutions?".
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  1. Michael Massey from Clickit Digital, October 16, 2013 at 5:09 a.m.

    The lines are blurring when it comes to TV content, especially for younger audiences. A recent Pivot study indicated that a large percentage of 18-34 yr olds would consider leaving the pay TV system. ( Marketers and agencies need to adjust media strategies for the ever changing consumption habits of the population.

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