TV Guide: What’s Up Next for Viewers?

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Television is a bit of an antiquated concept these days. What we see on our screens is now delivered in so many different ways, and to so many different devices, that from a marketing and advertising perspective we are forced to stop thinking about “television” and rather, think more about “video content”.

Marketers need to be cognizant of the idea that television has morphed from being a form of content, to being a channel to deliver content. And while Bruce Springsteen once lamented that there are “57 channels and nothin’ on”, nowadays there are literally an unlimited number of channels and a whole lot “on”.

“Television has morphed from being a form of content, to being a channel to deliver content.”

So television is just another channel – good. Now we can move on from the doomsday “death of television” babble that permeates so much thinking in advertising circles. Television isn’t dead. In fact, it is very much alive and well; it’s just that its role has changed from a “form of content” to a “channel to deliver content”. I read a great blog post recently by the Ad Contrarian who paraphrased someone very well – “TV isn’t dying, it’s having babies”. Nicely said.

Want some proof? Even the device that sits in your living room (you know, the one with the remote we love so much) no longer just delivers “television” content. We recently asked people to tell us what they were watching when they claimed to be watching TV, and over one-third said they were watching something other than regular TV with commercials.

Blog_Graph-01 Source: Ipsos

We can no longer use the word “television” interchangeably to mean the device and the content. This fact is corroborated by the recently released Nielsen Total Audience Report for Q1 2015, which shows us that live TV is still a hugely important channel, but new channels of video content delivery are growing. It is becoming more and more clear that when someone says they are watching TV, you can no longer assume you know what they mean.

Blog_Graph-02 Source: Nielsen Total Audience Report, Q1 2015

Netflix and subscription services like it are clearly a big part of this shift and are fundamentally changing the entire industry of advertising and marketing. Our Ipsos study found that 20% of people who said they were watching television were watching subscription services such as Netflix.

According to recently released data from Sandvine Corp., Netflix traffic accounts for 34% of downloads in North America during peak hours of the day. The corresponding decline in traditional TV viewership seen in the Nielsen viewership metrics means that the implications for marketers are complex and that we have  to ensure we are thinking holistically about our video content creative and media strategies.

A recent article on Buzzfeed really brought the point home for me. As a marketer I wasn’t sure if I wanted to laugh or cry about this one: parents now punish their kids by making them watch TV (versus allowing them to be online)! So while TV is still a very big part of consumers’ entertainment mix, it is obviously sharing the limelight now with the plethora of different ways in which we can consume video content.

While humorous anecdotes such as this can bring some levity to the situation, clearly our approach to creative development and media planning needs to adapt.

Successful marketers will know that we need to treat TV as a channel – a channel that needs to be planned for in the context of other channels that deliver video content. And to win the game of building our brand, we should remember that all forms of media can play a role. Whatever the role that video content plays for your brand, it can be distributed through many different channels, including TV.

So if you are a marketer responsible for building a brand, stop thinking about the death of one channel versus the birth of another and start thinking about all the wonderful ways that you can deliver great content to your target audience.