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Internet Killed the TV Star

By Render Positive | 20th Aug 2013 | Posted in Marketing

Ofcom seem pretty proud of themselves claiming that ‘91% of adults watch their main TV once a week’. In fact they go further to suppose that with the increase in mobile devices ‘teens’ are being brought out of their bedrooms and plunked ‘back into the family room’.

Am I the only person that seems confused that the term ‘family room’ is trying to make a sneaky comeback?

One of the early reasons why TV viewing shifted was due to the changing nature of television. TV shows stopped being ‘events’ and viewers started to demand much more than what TV was able to offer. And so the viewers started to move away feeding the desire for more from other sources, notably the Internet.

1950s TV RoomThe role that television played in the past was as a central beacon, or portal, for advertising companies to the family. In fact soap opera’s gained their name from this genre’s first sponsors Procter & Gamble.  As TV started to become an increasingly more powerful medium so too did the power of advertisement. Most of the rules of TV advertising started way back in the 1950s. These rules have not changed much and have, almost like every other media, failed to accept the increase Internet usage and the audience’s appetite for commercial free programmes.

TV back in the 1990s was enjoying its last hurrah as the Internet started to provide these TV with its first, and only, real challenge.

A Challenger Rises

Eric Schmidt at Edinburgh TV FestIn 2011 Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt stated during his MacTaggart Lecture in Edinburgh that the BBC iPlayer was revolutionizing the TV industry. The BBC had predicted the changing nature of the TV viewer and provided the industry standard platform.

In the past few years the huge increase in mobile devices has meant that the traditional TV, now much bigger than it has ever been before, generally gathers dust. But TV refuses to admit that like the physical book, letter writing, and weekend trips to the library, the public’s attachment to the ‘TV’ is forever gone.

The generation that follows won’t care for the history of television, as their first point of reference will be YouTube or other Internet platforms like BBC iPlayer.

Though they may do it in the old ‘family room’ nothing is more off putting than a family sat around neither talking nor watching the TV but faces buried in their phones or tablet devices.

Google Video – YouTube – BBC iPlayer

Yeah, I know, talking about Google Video is a bit redundant but it is an important inclusion when talking about new TV viewing platforms. Google Video was the companies attempt to join the new market that YouTube had created. When this failed the company bought YouTube which, to-date, has never made Google a profit.

BBC iPlayer

Over time Google has tried to make YouTube a global television platform with Google TV being talked about since 2010. The biggest hurdle for Google has been the resentment and refusal of TV companies. They, like newspapers before them, scoffed at the idea that the Internet would, or could, replace traditional TV.

But then nobody expected the BBC to create the world’s most popular online TV service. After iPlayer was launched, TV companies scurried around to duplicate it, but TV still refused to submit to the Internet, or more to YouTube.

TV & The Internet

It is now a fact that the Internet cannot be ignored. The role that it plays in society is immense and the changing nature of how audiences watch TV means the Internet has been providing an increasingly important place for TV audiences. The Internet offers audiences a choice that TV does not and one of these choices is to avoid commercials.

Commercial television derives most, if not all, of its revenue from paid advertising or product placement (which has just become legal in the UK for certain broadcasters – not the BBC).

However there is something of a conundrum, as TV advertisers only really know how to advertise on TV, the Internet is a confusing and complicated place for them. Audiences have started to turn away or skip their advertisements, which has been a trend since the 1980s. And with the increase in mobile devices, this means TV has lost its grip on the attention of its captured audience.

TV’s dominance is, for the time being at least, still undisputed. Though magazines and newspapers have seen a huge decline in advertising revenue, TV has seen an increase in advertisers. Their belief still seems to favour the fact that TV is the best way to reach the demographics they desire.

Mobile devices, however, are changing this and with more content being available online the shift away from TV has begun. Ofcom’s assertion that mobile devices are bringing families back to the TV room and keeping their attention firmly away from the TV, are more likely going to be advertiser’s greatest future challenge.


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