TV Is More Master And Servant Than King

Regular readers will know that one of the issues that always gets me on my soapbox is when conference speakers talk about how tv is dead when, quite clearly, it is in good health. It's changing, sure, but then what isn't in this digitally led world we're now in? So, it was interesting to see this morning's research from the tv industry's think tank, Thinkbox. As you might imagine they would, the figures show that traditional television is still king but beneath the figures there is an interesting move toward us watching tv on our terms. Maybe, just maybe, we need another term than "tv is king" that is trotted out as regularly as "tv is dead" by wise sages at a conference armed with a PowerPoint.

One of the major findings that you won't find reported on, because it's not a quick headline grabber, but video viewing or television viewing -- whatever you want to call it -- has plateaued. While many people looking for a headline will go to 2010 figures, if you compare 2014 with 2015, we're actually down 1% on the amount of time we spend consuming tv and video. So, the market, it could be fair to say, has reached an equilibrium, for the time being anyway.

Now that superfast broadband is available to the vast majority of homes and the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime are very well known and established, we can safely say that the channels offering video and tv consumption are largely known. We can also deduce that there are only so many hours in the day and that by viewing as much last year as we did the year before (well, ok, 1% less) then the public has pretty much voted on how long it wants to be in front of the television screen, laptop, iPad or smartphone viewing "stuff."

What is very clear is that watching television shows is way ahead as the biggest attraction. If you add in playback television and broadcaster catch-up services then just over three-quarters of video consumption is us watching our favourite shows either live (for 61% of us) or at a later date. In fact, if you just look at Millennials, live tv viewing is down to 43% of consumption, but with playback and catch-up that is boosted to around 57%. The majority of consumption for Millennials is still watching "normal" tv live or on catch-up. If you throw in watching your favourite show on Netflix, then two-thirds of Millennial video consumption is watching tv shows live, delayed or streamed.

The big difference for Millennials is the proportion of video watched via the likes of Netflix is twice as high as the national average -- 8.7% vs 4%. The same doubling is also seen with broadcaster VOD. It leads to a very simple conclusion: the younger you are the more likely you take catching up with shows when it suits you for granted. Us of a certain age still conform to the "appointment" to view far more readily than Millennials but, essentially, we're all doing the same thing. Millennials just take it for granted they can have their cake and eat it. They don't have to be in front of the tv at a set time to see a show. This is probably not just an attitude,  but also a practical consideration for an age group that might well be students, flat sharers or those living at home who do not always have full control of the main set in their abode. Instead, they have become used to catching up when they can either on the main set or on a device.

So, if you look too hard at the figures you can go blind on the percentages as they tell you what you kind of suspected. Millennials are twice as likely as us of more advanced years to get video on Web sites and social media as well as a monthly subscription services, such as Netflix.

The big take out, though, is that we're all pretty much doing the same thing. Whether it's for two-thirds of a Millennial's time or three quarters of video consumption for the national average, the vast majority of our video consumption is spent watching the show we love either when the broadcaster says we should or when it suits us.

It would be tempting to say tv is king and it always has been but I'm wondering whether we need to acknowledge that it isn't a king in the way we have to tug our forelock as perhaps we once did. Rather, it's still master but it's also our servant. We pay attention to its timings and give it our attention but we also expect it to deliver what we want, when we want it on a device that suits us. The Depeche Mode song probably had it right, then -- it's more "master and servant" than king alone.

3 comments about "TV Is More Master And Servant Than King".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 10, 2016 at 10:29 a.m.

    Good observations, Sean. What the "TV is dead" crowd seems to forget is the need that most of us have for sports, documentaries, talk shows, game shows, news, etc., as well as primetime sitcoms, dramas-- and movies in general. Most people crave variety in their TV diet and, so far, SVOD is mainly about movies, and primetime-style sitcoms or dramas---either as originals or as reruns. There's a limit to how much of that most of us will want to consume and it is unlikely that SVOD will make sufficient inroads in non-entertainment content to "destroy" the broadcast TV networks, basic cable channels and national TV syndicators. The key word is "balance" and we get that by utilizing all sorts of content venues, not just SVOD.

  2. Leonard Zachary from T___n__, March 10, 2016 at 1:06 p.m.

    TV is not dead But technology and innovative distribution is the way forward and Unfortunately TV broadcasters are not positioned in the technmology stack to be in the New Game....

  3. Leonard Zachary from T___n__, March 10, 2016 at 1:07 p.m.

    Ed how's that Drone with the Comp coming along?

Next story loading loading..