Bong! Bong! Toll the bells, television is dead. Or so Raymond Snoddy would have you believe. Following two independent developments this week Snoddy declared network television had reached its ‘boiled frog’ moment – the industry now waking up to the inevitability of long-predicted disruptive change but all too little too late.
While this proclamation has ruffled a few feathers – TV talent does not take kindly to being called irrelevant – the reality is that this claim feels rather like old news. The demise of TV in favour of alternative digital screens has been a well-chewed subject over the past couple of years, however, arguably it is this apathetic attitude that has lulled the networks into a false sense of security with them now left floundering as their fears look set to become a reality.
The first development to draw attention was a talk made at the MIPFormats conference in Cannes by Eric Scherer, director of future media at France Televisions. Arguing that the industry needed to consider a mobile-first strategy as mobile became the primary screen for content consumption, he declared:
“This disruption has been expected for years now. We knew it was coming but were short of concrete evidence on this disruption. And guess what? In the last few weeks, the last few months boom. Everything is coming almost at once”.
Giving back bone to Scherer’s claim, international consultancy group Accenture near-simultaneously published a study on ‘Digital Video and the Connected Consumer’ (http://goo.gl/xfw0ch) based on a survey of 24,000 people in 24 countries including the UK. They report that “TV is the only category of device experiencing uniform, double-digit usage declines, across different types of media worldwide, among viewers of nearly all ages” with a drop in viewing of -33% among 14-17s, -14% among 18-34s, -11% among 35-54 and -6% among 55+.
However, holes have been poked in the reliability of Accenture’s data – and rightly so. Matt Hill, Research and Planning Director at Thinkbox, swiftly responded to Snoddy’s article challenging the firm’s figures and disputing that, while viewing habits have changed, the broad and varied reach of TV is still in rude health – getting to the heart of the true concern of the networks.
In his introduction, Snoddy likens television’s situation as akin to that faced by the print industry five years ago and the similarities are difficult to dismiss. In an environment of decreasing consumption and improving technology newspapers acknowledged the necessity to adapt to change and created a strong digital offering to complement their traditional media – with enormous success. Arguably, TV has begun this process with the advancement of VOD platforms and mobile-friendly content; however, as the preferences of the screenager increasingly become the norm will it be enough or has this frog croaked his last?
Here at Opticomm we believe it’s premature to dismiss a medium which forms such an integral and valuable part of so many great campaigns, providing excellent reach within a trusted environment in which the consumer is relaxed and receptive. The growth of multi-screen consumption should not be ignored – but rather than detract from TV we believe this provides an exciting opportunity to develop more creative, engaging campaigns which will prove their worth in results.