Prime Time Becomes "My Time"

You know I've been spending a lot of my time over the last few weeks focusing on the shift towards consumer-centric media delivery and all the news around the major networks starting to make their content available on video-on-demand systems, through both the TV and the Internet. With the inclusion of NBC and CBS on the bandwagon, this is a very exciting period in media.

First of all, this is the tipping point where the media is becoming just as important as the creative. In the old agency world, the media people were typically relegated to the end of the meeting--and they had to learn how to speak fast in order to get their points across (if you've ever seen me present, this is why I talk so fast). In today's agency world, the message and the medium are equally as important, and everyone gets equal billing. This is the case because the content can be made available in many more formats than ever before. As the touchpoints increase for the same content, we see that the media recommendations need to take into account context as much as they take into account the audience. A media planner needs to know where the user will see these ads as much as who will be seeing them. In an environment of multitasking, you need to attempt to have multiple frequency at the same moment in time in order to break through the clutter. It helps the performance of the overall campaign. As this concept grows in importance, so does the role of the media planner.



The second exciting point is the shift from prime time to "My Time." Prime-time TV has typically been from 8-10 p.m., but with the content being made available within 24 hrs of its original airing, we'll see the audience for these shows extended--and the location for their viewing extended as well. TiVo and other DVRs already allow us to time-shift, changing when a portion of the audience watches a show, but these new developments also provide us with location-shifting that makes them portable. As a result, prime time can shift even further and will create My Time, which is my own personal prime time; the period when I typically watch a show.

Nielsen is already starting to account for time-shifting in its ratings reports, but how will they account for online viewing as well? It's possible, even probable, that these two additions may result in an increase in ratings for some of the top- rated shows. I know that in the last three weeks I've become an addict of "Lost" only because I bought the DVD of the first season and the iTunes of the second season to date, and I watched them all in a matter of days. For me, my prime time is 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. and anytime I spend on a plane. My Time shifts along with my schedule and wherever I can log on.

Prime-time TV itself won't go away anytime soon. It is still convenient for many in the audience, and it's still a source of watercooler discussion, but for people like me who are never home at 8 p.m., this means I have more options on how to view popular television. What about the college students who will become the next generation of the work force? Do they have time and any interest in regularly scheduled television? Some do, and some don't, and the next 10 years will find the answer to that question.

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