Maybe Television ISN'T The New Television

There is a new book out by Michael Wolff called “Television is the New Television.” I have not read it yet,  but have seen various reviews of it.

It seems Wolf says that all the main digital media want to be television. Facebook, with its enormous reach and now-auto-playing videos, wants to be television. Google, with its equally humongous reach, wants to be television, which is why it has YouTube. Twitter wants to be TV with Vine and Periscope. And the print media, with its video-heavy digital platforms, want to be TV. Even Snapchat thought it wanted to be TV, but has now fired its content making department.

Wolff explains that TV makers and distributors have more than one source of income: commercials and distribution. The “new” media have only one: commercial time/reach. I read somewhere that last year, CBS makes as much money from distribution as it does from selling airtime, and that the share of distribution income is growing, while advertising revenue is shrinking.

But I don’t know if I want to call any of this TV.

We watch quite a number of programs in the Albarda household, coming from all sorts of “TV sources” like ABC, CBS, Netflix, CW, Crackle, Amazon Prime, the BBC and a whole range of others. We watch 80% of our TV on our own schedule, as opposed to the originators’ schedule (I did not call it broadcasters’ schedule on purpose, because many of the originators aren’t broadcasters in the traditional sense). It is sometimes DVR-ed (if we remember), but most times we watch via the on-demand channel from Time Warner, ROKU, Google Chromecast, Amazon Prime or any other platform that might carry what we want to see.

We do secretly love the DVR the best, because it allows us to fast-forward through the commercials. Let’s be honest -- so do you. The on-demand channels always show that title screen at the beginning that “certain functions” will not work for the program you’re about to see. What they mean is that the fast-forward button, our TV ad blocker, is not functioning. Really annoying, right?

I don’t know how much a spot for, say, “Modern Family” or “Madam Secretary” via on-demand costs (a C3+ buy I guess), but I assume it is cheaper than “regular” TV. And when I watch a show via my DVR, I don’t care what you paid, because I’m fast-forwarding most ads.

Side note: We do make exceptions for commercials that show something we are interested in (typically a new movie release). Still, the ads are almost never for something we are in the market for. We also watch some commercials for their entertainment value. You’re welcome.

I know our experience cannot be used as the template for the average American family. But I am betting that your at-home viewing experience will have some overlaps with how we view here Chez Albarda. And that takes me back to Michael Wolff’s book title. TV is perhaps not the new TV. I think TV is just a screen.

3 comments about "Maybe Television ISN'T The New Television".
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  1. Leonard Zachary from T___n__, October 19, 2015 at 11:54 a.m.

    TV is just a Screen. Distribution is not a source of income , it's a cost to do business with "TV is just a screen". The CBS distrubution fees generated could be tomorrow's SnapChat ghost. Everything is in Real Time for the attention of the User.

  2. Jonathan Hutter from Northern Light Health, October 19, 2015 at 4:27 p.m.

    This comment is only tangentially related to the column. Thank you for the information though, I do now want to read the book.

    Don't you think you should too? Ever see comments from people who read a headline but not the underlying content? If they did, in fact, read the related story, much of those comments are usually addressed. If you're going to tell us about what Michael Wolff says in his book, do the guy a favor.  Read the original content, not what the aggregators say about it.

  3. Maarten Albarda from Flock Associates (USA), October 20, 2015 at 11:13 a.m.

    Jonathan: fully agree. The book has just come out and lack of time is the only reason I haven't read it yet. But waiting instead of writing would have erased the topicality of the book release. You know what they say: today's book is tomorrow's... No wait, that was about newspapers. 

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