To paraphrase Mark Twain, the reports of TV’s demise are greatly exaggerated.
In whatever form — broadcasting’s Big Four, Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, or Jeff Katzenberg’s NewTV — television is alive and well.
Yes, cord-cutting is a reality. The viewing habits of millennials and Gen Z differ from baby boomers. Still, Americans watch a lot of linear TV. Even putting popular sitcoms or dramas aside, live sports draws millions of viewers.
The billion-dollar fight for eyeballs surpasses Google and Facebook. Per Nielsen, adults spent 45 minutes/day on social networks and 25 minutes watching video on mobile.
TV? That earned 4 hours and 46 minutes/day – up 21 minutes from February.
Also, for advertisers, linear TV remains a key source for pushing products. Netflix doesn’t have ads. Premium YouTube doesn’t, either. To compete, rivals will have to devise a less expensive alternative to the 30-second spot. (Traditional TV is creating various options, as well.)
True, the medium, in content and ownership, is changing — all in a fight to survive.
Earlier this month, shareholders from Disney and 21st Century Fox approved Disney’s $71 billion purchase of Fox’s film and television assets. Many analysts assumed the deal was to shore up Disney’s competition with powerhouse Netflix.
To keep subscribers, Netflix depends on engaging content. Disney wants to stop the supply on its end. By keeping Fox’s inventory, it will keep its cross-demo audiences. If Disney wants to stream Fox shows, it will do so on its own subscription VOD services.
Separately, movie-wise, Disney can proceed with Fox’s four “Avatar” sequels, which boast mass appeal. And which will, inevitably, reappear on TV.
This is not to suggest there isn’t cause for concern. Experts forecast a 64% increase in cord-cutters in the next three years. But it’s also true television provides a certain kind of escapism. Viewers watch news, shows or sports without searching.
Conversely, one can spent 20 minutes just trying to decide what to watch on digital.
Video killed the radio star, but TV is harder to kill than print.