No, TV Isn't Dead

Television: Don't toss it away
In a January 28, 2014 Forbes editorial, Magnify founder Steven Rosenbaum zestfully declared that “television is dead,” a topic that has been hashed and rehashed frequently in recent years by many critics and industry analysts.

This time it’s different, according to Rosenbaum, because lately “mainstream media buyers [have been] pointing a firehose of new money at the emerging web video creation market,” and as the advertising dollars will no longer be invested into the realm of broadcast, the Internet market will soon vanquish that of the traditional model.

Unfortunately, Rosenbaum is viewing the matter in entirely the wrong way, and his prophecy of doom will soon be forgotten. Television’s heart is beating strongly, and the evolution and development of new technologies and methods for viewing only serves to fortify the industry, not devitalize it.

In an internationally-conducted February 2014 TV Connect survey of media firms, 79.6% of respondents believed that although over-the-top content (OTT) is gaining more attention, the end of the broadcast industry is not nigh. In fact, a large consensus of 95.5% of participants concurred that better-utilized interfaces would only increase the effectiveness for broadcast.

Last autumn, an Ad Age article denounced thinkers in Rosenbaum’s camp, noting that an analysis of Nielsen data found that “the web is over-indexing.”

While the amount of people abandoning cable providers (Comcast, Charter, etc.) has been on the rise, what many fail to realize is that the number of consumers utilizing telecoms (AT&T, Verizon, etc.) has also been on the rise.

And further: a majority of viewers are still watching the affiliate stations in their regions. According to a 2013 Pew Research Center report, 71% of U.S. adults continue to watch local television network news; additionally, media company revenues were shown to have increased compared to the previous year. Industry leaders Nexstar and Sinclair grew 40% and 32.3%, respectively.

Sinclair CEO David Smith observed that “2013 was a historic year for us … we benefited from 6.9% same station growth in our largest advertising category.”

A February 2014 study from StepLeader, a mobile advertising firm, revealed even more intriguing information about newshounds. 36% stated that they prefer TV for breaking stories, as opposed to only 26% for an app. Fueling the television loyalty, 47% admitted that even though they use a local news app, they’re inclined to watch their local broadcast anyway. In fact, those who use apps for local news were found to be twice as likely to tune in to the TV.

Live broadcasts have been showing record audience numbers, an incredible 111.5 million viewers watched the Super Bowl on FOX. On day one of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, the best Saturday primetime on any of the big four networks since the 2010 Vancouver Games occurred on NBC. During the U.S.-Russia ice hockey game on Feb. 15, about 4 million viewers tuned in to NBCSN at 7:30 a.m., providing the network with its best-ever daytime viewership. Advertising for the upcoming Academy Awards ceremony on ABC is already sold out, with approximately 40 million expected to watch.

And in the premium channel arena, HBO continues to dominate, having recently announced their largest increase of subscribers in 17 years, as well as revenue growth of 4%, despite the fact that one of its shows was the most pirated last year.

Even President Obama finds time for HBO programming, making a point to ask head honcho Richard Plepler “Where is my True Detective and Game of Thrones?”, as he prepared to binge-watch over the Presidents’ Day weekend.

If, as Rosenbaum stated, this year is the one that the Internet will “eclipse TV,” one would believe that digital companies wouldn't have an issue releasing their internal metrics, something that is routinely done in the television field.

This isn't the case.

At a February 6, 2014, programming executive conference, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos insisted that his company is not competing against broadcasters, stating “I can’t get any win” if their ratings were revealed.

Finally, every big-time player in the industry, from broadcast to digital, has experienced major stock growth in the past year. While the web does indeed have its fans, traditional TV will not be displaced anytime soon.
2014 stock market
Stocks are up

So no, TV isn't dead. In short, telecom customers are up, live audiences are up, premium subscribers are up, overall revenues are up and local viewers maintain their dedication.

Time to look at the bigger picture.

Author: Brian Cameron

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