Essay on The TV Guide is Dead

Essay on The TV Guide is Dead

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A while back, I wrote about the death of “TV Time.” This concept was simple—people were spending less time watching TV while sitting on their couches, slave to some arbitrary schedule. Perhaps the article should have been named, “The TV Guide is Dead.” Oh well. Regardless, it got the point across. Less people were watching according to schedule. They wanted to watch when they wanted to watch.
The premise was based on data from a Nielsen report, State of the Media: Consumer Usage Report (2011) which indicated a dropping level of time spent watching linear television across a number of different demographic groups. It would seem that two years since that report and things have only gotten worse for broadcast media. In fact, according to a lot of new data from a variety of sources, the days of broadcasters seem to be numbered.

The graph above illustrates the continued drop in cable-TV subscribers (source: ISI Group / Business Insider), which for the first time may drop below 40m. The question to ask is, “Why?” Are people watching less video? According to Cisco, that is far from the case.
The growth of data
Cisco’s annual Internet Traffic Report (2013) shows that mobile traffic, perhaps the largest growing bucket of data in the world, continues to rocket upwards as people consume more video.

There are lots of stats about the growth of data consumption. But the best job in recent years to calculate just how much data we consume each day has been research carried out at the University of San Diego. According to their findings:
In 2008, Americans consumed information for about 1.3 trillion hours, an average of almost 12 hours per day. Consumption totaled 3.6 zettabytes and 10,845 trillion words, corresponding to 100,500 words and 34 gi...


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...rom broadcast media also heralds an opportunity. In a world of self-service digital, where consumers compare everything according to value, online video is the ultimate table stakes. For mere pennies a day, consumers can get the content they want (that’s key) when they want it on whatever device they are using. They can watch their shows on their time from the mobile phone or a tablet or a computer or a smartTV. And that is the ultimate value for whatever it costs. Perhaps broadcast media can figure it all out in time. Perhaps they can stave off Judgment Day by evolving their business models to provide the kind of value consumers want. Then they become just another online video provider competing for the same eyeballs as everyone else. Changing their business model (away from subscriptions) would require Herculean efforts.
Is that a pale horse I see on the horizon?


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