Television Remains the Heart of Media

As we start a New Year blitzed by social network after social network I can’t help but reflect on how television is transforming to consolidate the place as the market of all screens…

1.  In an era where content is king look at the series coming out of television… (where top acting, directing and writing talent is not on movies but on TV). My 2013 TV Top Ten are:

  1. Justified
  2. Homeland
  3. Game of Thrones
  4. House of Cards
  5. Blacklist
  6. Hell on Wheels
  7. Spartacus
  8. Breaking Bad
  9. Elementary
  10. Magic City

2.  TV’s are now beautifully designed, amazingly good value and sensational in HD picture quality (thank you Bang & Olufsen, Samsung, Sony and LG).

3.  The interactive/record buttons are top notch.  Have it your way TV, especially on live sports where TV now invites you onto the field with the players.

4.  Ownership and viewership are increasing every day.  In mature markets and in emerging nations.

International audiences continue to grow: As perhaps the ultimate gauge of the growth of international TV audiences, the Olympic committee predicts a 17% audience growth for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.  Taking opening and closing ceremonies into account, the Sochi Olympics should draw 3.5 billion viewers worldwide.

International audiences and multi-lingual broadcasts: As the US audience grows in terms of number of screens (mobile, tablet, etc.), the number of viewers remains static, therefore the expansion of international markets comes into focus. With the success of satellite broadcasting companies like Dish Network and DirecTV, we will likely see the creation of an international, multi-lingual television culture capable of reaching the remote corners of the earth, turning every person in the world into a potential satellite cable TV consumer.

Streaming content will be the new standard: With Smart TV’s registering 22% of all televisions sold in the U.S. in 2013, up from 11% the previous year, consumers are beginning to demand “connectedness”. With the emergence of devices like Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, Xbox1 and Playstation 4, and online streamers like Netflix and HBO GO, companies such as Samsung are now by making 75% of their TV’s capable of connecting to the internet.

Consumer quality control forces cable consolidation: With events like Charter Communications’ bid to take over Time Warner Cable sparking a meteoric rise in cable stock sales, investors and industry experts predict an industry-wide consolidation in order to fight off high programming costs as well as competition. This is good news for consumers. With the cable TV industry seeking to compete with streaming services, we can expect that the product of these big acquisitions and mergers to be greater volumes of high quality content.

4K T.V.’s are here to stay: Predicted to sell 10 times as many screens in 2014 than the previous year, 4K TV’s are predicted to drive television sales growth over the next 5-10 years, sustained unlike the fad that is 3D televisions.  The TV and movie industries are shifting to make the entire production process digital. Thus the medium through which consumers view shows and movies are sure to follow the 4K format.

There is no limit to the human imagination. Trust the Norwegians. Millions of them are tuning into ‘slow TV’ – hours of panoramic landscapes, train rides, fjord cruising, salmon fishing, knitting, and crackling log fires. Over half the population tuned into a five day cruise of the Norwegian coast. Zig while others zag.

5.  Advertising revenues are growing relentlessly.

Advertising is king on America’s biggest stage: At $4M for a 30 second spot, Fox will haul in about $260M in revenue from the 2014 Super Bowl. This is one of the biggest events in television, attracting over 100M viewers in the US (by comparison, 531M people worldwide watched the 2010 FIFA World Cup final).  It’s nearly impossible to reach an audience as large and diverse this one, which is why brands invest in making the “perfect” ad meant to touch every unique community watching the game. The Super Bowl commercials not only boost sales, draw attention to brands, and create social media chatter, they draw a nearly equal amount of discussion as the game itself, illustrating that “perfection” can be worth the cost.

Television remains atop the competition: Amid the emergence of mobile device usage and the popularity of streaming content, television endures as the most effective medium for advertisers to reach their target audience.  Television has 40% of the global advertising revenue ($200B out of total ad spend of $500B), and its share is holding strong. With the emergence of new technology like Ultra HD TV’s and cyclical events like the Olympics and World Cup being broadcasted globally, TV ad spend is predicted to continue to increase over the next 5 years.

Mobile does not detract, it enhances TV: The exponential growth of mobile technology has dominated headlines and innovations in 2013, though not as a replacement for the household TV. There are simply more ways to watch. With the development of mobile DVR, consumers are capable of time shifting so that they never miss their favorite Cable and Premium television shows. Shows like Blacklist and The Following have gained up to 1.5 rating points up to a week after their initial screenings.  

Young people still watch television, just differently: Television is still America’s #1 pastime; the average American still watches four hours and 39 minutes of television daily. Neilsen reports that in 2013 the 12-34 age group watched only two minutes less TV than the year before. The decline in young viewership is slowing as content quality increases and the entertainment providers catch up with technology. TV and its advertising is not disappearing, it is simply migrating screens in order to meet the new consumer demand.

In this digital age, let’s not forget the colours of screens – Television.

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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