Commentary

4 Reasons Why Digital Media Is Causing The Death Of Television

For Millennials and most modern consumers, television has been a key part of our daily lives — whether it’s looking forward to relaxing and watching a show after a long day at work or cheering on a favorite sports team during the playoffs. However, the rise of technology has changed the way people consume visual content, making it tough for television to compete with the digital world. Could television really be dying a long, slow death? Here are four reasons why digital media is causing the death of television and why marketers should ditch television for digital media. 

1. Money Better Spent

Not only is cable becoming increasingly more expensive compared to online streaming options, but the return on investment of traditional marketing is waning. Online marketing offers a plethora of targeted ways to reach an audience.  For the first time since 2009, television ad spending in the United States dropped, while digital media had double-digit growth. This year, television’s share of the total United States media ad spend will drop from 33.9% to 31.6%, while digital ad spend will climb 18.7% to total $107 billion. 

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2. Endless Possibilities

Thanks to technology, everyone now has access to all things on the Internet via their smartphones. According to Tubular Insights, 87% of Millennials are never without their smartphones and 92% browse on other devices while watching television. For example, you’re sitting in front of the television watching “The Simpsons” but lose interest in the specific episode, so you switch over to your iPhone to stream a different, perhaps funnier, episode. Watching television in real time limits you to that one episode (plus sitting through commercials), while going online offers a quick and reliable way to watch anything from anywhere at any time.

3. Higher Engagement

Audiences no longer have the attention span to sit through commercials and absorb information. Instead, viewers are resorting to using second-screen devices which allow them to spend time on social networks and chat about the show they’re watching or engaging with, thus taking on a more engaged viewing role. Going online also gives viewers the power to skip commercials altogether, pause and play content on their own time and watch what they’re actually interested in.

4. Generation Gap

Millennials are taking the digital world by storm and leaving live television behind, along with the older generation. According to the Consumer Technology Association, people ages 18 - 34 spend 55% of their video-watching time consuming content that has already aired live, and the heaviest 60% of live television viewers are 45 years old or older. This generation gap will only continue to make online viewing the preferred way to consume media. 

As marketing professionals, it’s crucial to take the time to understand what’s driving people to consume information digitally and push traditional television to the side. Technology will continue to offset traditional media consumption habits, thus forcing companies to implement new digital strategies that will ultimately deliver the highest return on their investment.

7 comments about "4 Reasons Why Digital Media Is Causing The Death Of Television".
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  1. Michael Schiferl from IPG, May 2, 2018 at 1:59 p.m.

    Much above looks at TV through TV in its original format (watching on an actual TV and in real time) and ad-focused POV. Like most media, TV reaches far broader audiences across platforms, often "outreaching" itself in regard to viewers watching on TV sets. Millennials (gasp), indeed view and share content from "TV" programs. From Ellen's many digital platforms, SNL skits never seen on Saturday nights, or millions of E! Twitter followers who'll rarely see E! TV show, the examples go on and on.  In part why earned coverage/content via TV (with syndication and even more hours of TV news being add in US than ever), is still vital to reaching people, regardless if making TV ad buys have less impact        

  2. Brian Durocher from GTB, May 2, 2018 at 2:06 p.m.

    This is approx. the millionth time this article has been written. One of these days it will actually be true. 

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, May 2, 2018 at 4:03 p.m.

    Steve, you have just fed us the standard and easily refuted party line "TV is dying" presentation that's been repeated almost without end for the last three years or more. Yet TV is still chugging along, a positive uptick in spending is predicted for the upcoming primetime upfront, advertisers who track how their commercials are performing with lots of research as well as monitoring sales results are not fleeing the medium, and digital entities are upping their ad spending on TV---which seems rather odd if TV commercials are never watched---as you suggest. What's more, savvy branding advertisers, as opposed to the millions of mom and pop types who donate their dollars to digital ad sellers so readily, have at last done some homework and they don't like what they see. The costs of buying digital media are vastly higher than for TV, half of the ads served never get to the users' screens, and many of those that do are there for only a few seconds, fraud is commonplace, ad blockers---a result of the disruptive way that digital ads are presented---greatly reduce reach, etc. etc. So the cat is out of the bag.

    My basic point is that contending that almost no one watches TV commercials, that millennials are all-important and they have abandoned TV, that TV has been eclipsed by digital in ad revenues, etc. etc. may impress unsophisticated mom and pop advertisers, but real advertisers who check how their commercials are performing and closely track their sales, are no longer buying the "TV is dying" pitch and embracing digital media as the only way to target consumers. What we are watching---all of us---is the beginning of an extended learning process where the TV types learn from their digital counterparts, taking those elements that are a good fit , adapting them and moving forward---while,at the same time, the digital folks are also learning some vital lessons like, users dont want their perusal of editorial content interrupted by ads in a helter skelter manner---or they will use ad blockers,  real advertisers want their ad messages to be seen in their entirety, the costs of buying digital media are insanely high compared to TV, granular targeting at scale often is a myth, etc. etc.

    It's not a matter of TV dying or digital winning. As events evolve, sometimes stimulated by technology, often simply by common sense changes in business plans, TV and digital will move forward in a complimentary manner, each taking what makes sense from the other while discarding the rest. And both media will thrive---in my humble opinion.

  4. Dan Ciccone from STACKED Entertainment replied, May 3, 2018 at 9:37 a.m.

    We work with a lot of individuals who are younger than 30 across the entire U.S. and across multiple ethnicities.  The majority of them have no idea what NBC, MTV, or TBS is.  They know programming.

    And like my 77 year old parents, they discovered DVRs a decade ago and don't watch commercials.

    As others have pointed out, this is an age old argument about TV dying and I personally agree with most of it.  However, the industry needs to stop defining "watching TV" as watching network and cable programming.  Younger people watch TV.  They consume quite a bit of programming on second screens like mobile and PCs; however, many of them "watch TV" by viewing programs through their gaming console or smart TV...Twitch, Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, etc.

    Where "digital" gets it right is that even when there is a commercial pod, it's not a 6+ minute stream of nonsense that does not appeal to 75% of the audience.  Digital isn't really using some newfound way to monetize.  It's actually going back to basics by charging premiums for product integrations or partnering with brands to create content.

    Finally, everyone has a 4K camera in their pocket.  It's called a smartphone.  You don't need a million dollar studio and $500k worth of equipment to create cool content.  We work with creators who have $1,000 DSLRs, drones, high-end mics, and Go Pros.  Even with a mixing board and software, you can have an amazing "studio" setup for $5k and they make some incredible content.

    The times they been a changin' and speaking as an adult who has been trying to figure out how to avoid 6 minute commercial pods for the past 20 years, I'm loving it.

  5. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, May 3, 2018 at 12:47 p.m.

    The most accurate response would be written by someone under 30 but that’s not me. 

  6. John Grono from GAP Research, May 7, 2018 at 6:05 a.m.

    My comment is not directed at this specific post, but posting and commenting in general.

    There are certain specific words and phrases that if you see them, be very wary as what your reading is mere opinion and not based in absolute truth or facts.

    These include :

    - "...the death of..." , unless it is referring to a specfic person.
    - "Everyone..." and its antonym "No-one...".
    - "Endless" and/or "unlimited".
    - "Never" and its antonym "Always".
    - And lo and behold "no longer" popped up.

    And you know what ... the people and the generation posting articles using such phraseology and wording have a high propensity to smugly critcise the self-same people and generation that invented microprocessors, computers, laser printers, graphic interfaces and the Internet itself.   Pity that generation apparently don't know how to use the fruits of their labours.

  7. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, May 7, 2018 at 10:24 a.m.

    John, another sign that the reader should be wary of is when one "opinion piece" after another cites exactly the same "talking points" as you are seeing in numerous other "opinion pieces" all selectively citing "facts" designed to tell exactly the same story----namely that TV is about to be taken over by digital, young people have "abandoned TV", etc, etc.

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