Will digital kill the TV?

We’ve established now that the Internet is the God of all things. But does that apply to TV? I mean, that box is a well loved (sometimes overly obsessed) part of every household and has been holding people in thrall and entertaining them for generations, so how is it that this new age digital thing can take over something that is such an ancient and well-rooted constant in our lives? And how can such a small thing like digital even compete with the ever changing yet a comforting constant that is TV and not to mention cable service providers and set top box service providers? Well, here’s the answer – in the past few years it might have escaped our notice, but people have slowly shifted their loyalties from cable to the internet and more importantly hopped onto the bandwagon of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime etc.

This has almost rendered the cable TV services to a thing of the past and unless these providers learn to adapt and reshuffle quickly, they will become redundant. Most cable companies have become internet service providers as well; for example, Hathway earlier provided cable TV services as well as set top boxes for televisions. Now they have evolved to be an internet service provider too which will serve them well in future. There’s a trend that is rapidly taking over the digital world, streaming services, and Internet connected television is the new thing and to remain relevant, cable companies will have to make this shift. The cable television, once so popular is suddenly taking a back seat these days with the people spending more time on digital media now than with television media. And as time goes by the gap is going to widen more and more as digital media consumption increases and television consumption declines.

There are several reasons why people are abandoning the old, adored cable TV in favor of the more modern Internet, but there are three major factors which we’ve listed below here –

1. The Internet has unique and interesting content:

Yes, your old idiot box has more channels than you have time to go through, but about 70% of the content is generated for these channels by only 6 major players in the media industry! So it’s no wonder that the content these days feels stale and uninteresting. And the consumer cannot wait for the networks to come up with new, energized content to entertain them and this is why they ditch the TV in favor of Internet because this is where you’ll find fresh content that is unique and eye-catching. One example is all those videos on the YouTube channels, which while being an amateur is still a revitalizing breath of fresh air. And then there are shows and movies produced by streaming services like Netflix or Amazon Prime. Orange is the New Black, House of cards produced by Netflix or Hannibal, Hand of God which is produced by Amazon; these are examples of great shows with a great fan following too.

And these streaming services come up with fresh content regularly and the consumer is spoilt for choice when it comes to movies or shows because there is an ever increasing array of choices available. Entertainment is a big industry and even though the traditional market (TV) has become stagnant filmed entertainment especially is here to stay and cable service providers and channels need to focus on getting more and more fresh content out to the public to stay in its place.

2. There’s a change in how we watch television because of a culture shift:

Another phenomenon affecting the viewership of television is “Binge consumption”. Binge consumption is the trend where we binge watch the episodes of a TV show in a single sitting rather than wait for it to air on TV and this is especially the case in countries where shows that are aired in U.S are aired in those countries after ages! This particular phenomenon has affected the entertainment and film industry in a big way and few channels or companies recognized the potential in this and changed to provide this service to its consumers. Netflix was one of the first to do so, they released the entire season of Arrested Development and Orange is the New Black online instead of releasing them episode by episode. Cable service providers and set top box providers don’t offer you this option and you can only watch them episode by episode with an interminable wait in between each episode, which makes these streaming services all the more enticing to the consumer.

The cultural shift has also come in as a huge boon for marketers in the form of targeted advertising online. Digital marketing has higher consumer revenue than traditional means. And it is easier for the marketers to accurately target online viewers and deliver personalized and relevant ads to the consumer through which responsiveness can also be easily measured; alas, cable television doesn’t allow for this choice and it has come as a death blow to it.

And, because of people binge watch often and sometimes the same show repeatedly streaming services come in handy to provide an uninterrupted service where you can remain immersed in the character and storyline without unnecessary breaks.

3.  Tech savvy younger generation:

Today’s younger generation is very tech savvy and grew up with the internet, evolved and adopted everything digital with gusto. So with this independence, they’re not dependant on any television channels for news or entertainment, the internet takes care of all these needs and is their primary source and go-to for information. This is the biggest hurdle for cable service providers as these are the ones who will go for internet connected TV rather than cable operated and the cost of cable packages don’t help either; hence the internet becomes a bigger priority in their lives than cable. And let’s not discount the price of television screens itself which is exorbitant these days and with mobile and tablets taking over it almost seems an unnecessary expense along with all else. It makes sense to have an internet connection rather than both cable or set top box along with the internet connection.

And with the trend on the rise, it might not be long before everyone shifts to the internet for streaming services as it works out cost effective too.

But even with all the evolution of digital marketing and mobile marketing, is it really enough to bury the old well loved television?

It seems not!

Because channels and media giants have learnt their lesson well and well ahead of time too apparently, and have worked at creating fresh and interesting content or reviving older content with a fresh, new take and this makeover has paid off! Shows such as Game of Thrones, How to get away with Murder, Suits, The Blacklist etc have breathed a fresh air into television and lifted it from the wasteland it was a few years ago. Media houses and channels revisit viewership, ratings and rework on the renewal of the seasons based on content or shelve it in favor of something new to keep the consumer always hooked and baited.

One example to note is when the Star Networks revisited the ratings and all time viewership of comedy show Sarabhai vs. Sarabhai and after several years renewed it for a second season as a web series on Hotstar.

Content driven sites might report plummeting digital traffic but the value of the television remains unchanged and even better, on the rise. People might’ve shifted to smaller screens of their mobiles and tablets via apps like HBO, Netflix, Hotstar, Amazon Prime and Hulu but the balance of power remains the same.

So to summarize, the TV isn’t going to die anytime soon with advertisements from major brands still being run on them for lack of an equivalent replacement. People will continue to watch TV as long as there is something interesting to be watched.