Doug Garnett’s Blog


Traditional TV Viewing Was Surprisingly Healthy in 2010

This morning’s New York Times reports on the the 2010 Nielsen wrap up. And the summary? “TV Viewing Continues to Edge Up” (click for link).

In fact, TV prognosticators, programmers and ad practitioners today have to sort out the contradiction between:

(a) the venture funded hype about internet TV,
(b) the legitimate possibility that some kind of internet distribution could harm the TV business,
(c) the good consumer value that might be created with various kinds of internet distribution, and
(d) the continuing health of traditional TV. (Beyond the Times, last week we received this solid report about cable subs from Time Warner.)

TV clearly will be changing. But will it be destructive change like has happened to newspapers? I doubt it.

TV is a very healthy industry – there’s lots of money and lots of vital new things happening. Consumers are basically quite satisfied with TV (though they definitely like time delay and getting movies on demand). But making TV even more healthy is the fact that it is already driven by aggregators – people whose job it is to seek out good programming and bring it together in a coherent form for consumption.

But what about Netflix? Gotta love the growth of movies on-demand and without discs. But I don’t see that as a threat to traditional TV viewing. Instead, mobile TV, movie streaming, the highly theoretical YouTube channels and other new options may only serve to increase total TV viewing time without dropping standard viewing of TV programming. (This has already been shown the result of mobile TV viewing.)

Perhaps what’s missing in all this discussion is a solid understanding that the wide mass of people AREN’T techies who live for achieving new things online. After a very long day of work, kids, and community, the mass of the population wants their TV to (a) be simple to use; (b) let them lean back instead of sit forward, (c) sometimes be stimulating and demanding and (d) but most of the time fill 2-3 hours with entertainment that’s not too much work.

So now I’m going out on a limb with my risk-taking prediction for TV in 2011: it will be neither as stagnant nor as extreme as reports might suggest – with the end result of TV combining with the internet being evolutionary change and not the disruption that tech anarchists seem to seek.

No wonder we only rarely hear about the truth – it’s such a let down when compared with the grand theories of change.

Copyright 2011 – Doug Garnett

Categories:   Business and Strategy, Communication, Media


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