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The Future of TV – Disrupted

When checking their monthly expenses, consumers are starting to notice the lack of value that they are getting from their traditional TV subscription bundled with 300+ channels of shows they seldom watch. These traditional premium entertainment packages now look incredibly expensive when compared to online streaming services like Netflix that charge just a few dollars a month. The digital age has given birth to a new generation of cord-cutters who are dropping the traditional subscription services for online alternatives.

Spending over $100 a month on an expensive cable or satellite package only to be bombarded with advertising messages every few minutes feels like an outdated concept. It should therefore be of no surprise that the alternative option of severing this cord from the past in favor of ad free HD quality entertainment from online streaming services for a fraction of the fee has become considerably more appealing.

Despite Netflix capturing all the headlines by concentrating on original content, all eyes will be on Apple TV that seems intent on increasing its dominance in the online TV arena.

This new world is ruled by personalized experiences via pick and play or a-la-carte TV that fit the modern ethos perfectly and ensure that viewers are only paying for what they want to watch. With a little luck, it could even help finally say goodbye to the days of mindlessly clicking away the TV remote watching a few seconds of everything without actually watching anything at all.

TV Networks seem to be out of touch with what their customers love and loathe. A quick glance through the TV listings reveals an endless smorgasbord of talent and reality shows filled with ads and product placements that feel incredibly alien to the modern audience. And traditional TV hardly seems to be fighting back. Our whole world and how we access information has changed and yet Television still seems to be stuck in the 70s.

As the smart home is rapidly becoming a reality it is not unusual for families to use huge amounts of data for streaming films, music, videos and game downloads. It is therefore even more bizarre to see traditional TV companies take a further step backward by exploring plans that will charge internet users highpremiums for the amount of data they use, much like a data plan on a smartphone.

Rather than evolve with the times and use available technology to expand their business, it appears unfortunate that some still want to restrict online activity. The business models of the past that put a price sticker on everything that moves are a prehistoric concept and the companies that fail to evolve or adapt will likely become extinct.

Meanwhile, YouTube stars such as PewDiePie have obtained 439 million views back in July 2014, which further illustrates the problems traditional TV is facing when their ratings now pale in comparison to online video.

The top 100 YouTube channels generated over 9.36 billion views in only a month as the ubiquitous ‘YouTube App’ invades Smart TV’s as well as mobile devices or games consoles. Even Roku revealed, that it has sold 10 million streaming devices in the US alone, which further strengthens the case that the masses are flocking to online viewing in droves.

Our viewing habits are also changing dramatically and seldom do we find ourselves tuning into a TV at a set time to watch the latest episode of a program and discuss over the water cooler at the office the following day. There are so many other time robbers in our lives now that we expect to watch our favorite show on the train home, only to later resume on any device we might have at hand a few hours later.

These are not overnight changes and the writing has been on the wall for more than a few years. Market analysis firm Forrester Research stated that between 1999 and 2009, annual revenues in the music industry declined from $14.6 billion to $6.3 billion and from 2006 to 2012 print media revenues fell from $49.3 billion to $22.3 billion, as per trade association figures.

Once again it feels like many industries have failed to learn from the lessons of others over the last five years. TV now joins the music industry, print media or even the humble taxi companies who are all wishing they had adapted to the changing times sooner, but now find themselves facing a challenging struggle.

As our habits rapidly change, it is also forecast that online advertising will exceed traditional TV advertising by 2017 due to declining ratings and revenue, illustrating just how TV is losing the viewing wars. Ad revenue is only one aspect of the growing problem as networks struggle to negotiate lucrative deals with the Pay-TV providers that carry their Channels.

As our viewing habits lean more and more towards binge viewing, even writers face a fresh set of challenges as narratives and plot lines are examined intensely by audiences who deconstruct every single scene of episodes online. Every aspect of the entertainment is evolving into something much more sophisticated than we have ever seen before.

As Millennials stop watching TV or listening to the radio in the traditional sense, UK’s BBC has adopted a refreshing approach to remain in tune with its younger audiences. They started by signing up some of the most popular bloggers to Radio One, in order to ensure that radio remained relevant to its younger listeners.

The world’s oldest national broadcasting organization then went one step further by revealing ambitious plans to make their BBC Three channel aimed at under-25s, an online-only television channel.

There is an argument that we are looking at screens and consuming more content than ever before. Sure live TV has taken a big hit, but maybe it is our metrics that are just as outdated. Audiences are migrating to a myriad of devices, platforms and catch-up services, so maybe the ratings are not declining at all and maybe we are just capturing the wrong information?

These are the days of instant gratification and the now generation expects to summon a cab instantly from their phone. When not staring down at a screen they want to stream any song they can think of directly into their ears. So don’t be surprised that they want to watch what they want and when they want and without any ads.

The Pandora’s box is now open. There is no going back to where we were, and as customers why would we want to? The sooner the entertainment and video industry realizes this the better it will be for its sake more than for our own.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me. Here are some other articles by me. 

This article was posted on with permission from Anurag.