Mario Orazio/Masked Engineer /
11.20.2012 07:05 PM
Is Television Really Dead?
What does local broadcast television have that no other video medium has?

From somewhere out there in the sticks… Mario was chatting with a dog-walking buddy one day recently, when said buddy advanced the opinion that nobody watches broadcast television, or apparently cable television, anymore.

Said buddy watches series programming on DVD, and that is apparently the extent of said buddy’s television viewing, at least to hear him tell it. And he seems to think he is typical. Well, Mario ain’t so sure.

Is said buddy typical? Don’t bet on it. Has everyone abandoned broadcast TV and cable for online viewing? Don’t bet on it.

From some recent news items we learn that although the investment community thinks broadcast TV is going away, there is still growth occurring in the industry, based on advertising revenues. Local broadcast television is the historic cornerstone of television viewing in these United States.

What does local broadcast television still have that no other video medium has? Local content, of course. Mario knew you knew that.

Local broadcast television also brings its viewers some other highly valued content, thanks to the affiliated broadcast networks. Mario refers to “big event” programming, such as the Olympics.

As we are aware, in addition to broadcast and cable, much 2012 Olympics coverage was available online.

According to a report by the Pew Research Center titled “Eight-in-Ten Following Olympics on TV or Digitally,” for the period of Aug. 2–5, 2012, 73 percent of respondents reported watching some Olympics coverage on television; while 17 percent reported watching some Olympics coverage online or digitally, and 12 percent reported following some Olympics coverage on social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter. Television, broadcast or cable, still looks pretty dominant to Mario.

Not surprisingly, the younger the respondent, the more likely online and social media were to figure into the equation. About 31 percent of those aged 18–29 have followed Olympics coverage on social networking sites, as opposed to 11 percent of those between 30–49, 6 percent of those 50–64, and just 2 percent of those 65 and older.

Still, television rules, even among younger viewers. And, online and social networking appear to be supplements to television viewing, as 79 percent of those following the Olympics online or on social networks said they were also watching coverage on television.

Nor is Olympic coverage the only bigevent programming. Far from it. Let Mario call the reader’s attention to such extremely popular events as the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards? Or the plethora of college and professional football games, baseball games, and all the other live sports available on television? Very little of this kind of programming is available online. Why? Well, for one thing, it’s expensive to produce. For another, online does not provide the big audiences required to amortize the costs.

What’s happening in online advertising anyway? Online advertising forecasting firm EMarketer recently lowered its outlook for online ad-spending growth from 17.7 percent to 16.6 percent. Still a healthy growth forecast, to be sure, but a little bit revised downward.

Looks like the business outlook for many, if not most, media outlets is growing, if only by single digits, but we still, of course, have the analog dollars/digital pennies phenomenon, which might be restated as the television dollars/online pennies phenomenon.

So as Mario said previously, don’t count television, even old-fashioned broadcast television, out just yet.

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Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Wed, 01-02-2013 10:28 AM Report Comment
This column first appeared in the Nov. 21 issue of TV Technology magazine. - McAdams
Posted by: Anonymous
Sat, 11-24-2012 09:43 AM Report Comment
Traditional broadcasters have their heads in the sand just like the recording industry did a number of years ago. While they continue to write articles such as this and pat each other on the back their core audience is shrinking, along with their advertising/revenue streams in addition to subscribers in regards to cable. Local, over the air television may survive longer than cable as it is still free, at least for now. As has been stated in many other articles, it's not the "cord cutters" that are the biggest threat but rather, the "cord never's". I will concede that the traditional model is not yet dead but it's starting to stink and the sharks are circling, more excitedly than ever.
Posted by: Anonymous
Sat, 11-24-2012 10:01 PM Report Comment
The economy crashed and the cable industry responded by jacking rates too high. With options like Hulu and Netflicks streaming the same stuff subscribers are bailing out in droves. Here's a marketing plan that is out of touch with it's audience.
Posted by: Anonymous
Mon, 11-26-2012 03:58 PM Report Comment
And Mario, don't forget to mention to your buddy that the vast majority of the shows he watches on DVD were OTA TV networks! If they go down, so does his programming. Not to mention his viewing is a year late on DVD. I stream a lot of my content thru a Roku box as well, but broadcasting and alternative distribution are (at least at this point) complementary technologies. To all the folks that crow over the purported demise of broadcast TV, I point them to the recent Jon Stewart - Bill O'Reilly streaming debacle. Great content, virtually unwatchable. Streaming isn't replacing anything yet.
Posted by: Anonymous
Tue, 01-01-2013 05:02 AM Report Comment
But Mario ... I used to be able to lay back and read you on nice slick and glossy paper. No I gotta use this stupid computer. Bring back print!

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