TV is Not Dead But It Is Evolving. A Look at On Demand

In this increasingly complex media world, on demand is emerging as the connector of viewing experiences that appear to be keeping television relevant and robust. That is according to the recent B&C Multichannel Summit which looked at the state of the television industry through the lens of on demand. Panels of content providers, data / measurement companies, advertisers and programmers offered their perspectives on how to best adapt to changing consumer behaviors.

Fighting market change is futile; The consumer is in charge and it is up to the industry to evolve. As Louis Hillelson, VP/Group Publisher Broadcasting and Cable/ Multichannel News noted, "Accessing on demand, anywhere, on any device is what the consumer demands."

TV is Not Dying ... But C3 Is
Rentrak CEO Bill Livek showed data that demonstrated that TV viewing was not declining. According to Livek, there are currently 57 million homes that are on demand enabled. The average household now spends 9.3 hours watching television with the time spent viewing primetime programming on demand doubling in the past five years. And that is because 100% of broadcast content is now available on demand. So in sum, "TV viewership is largely unchanged" he said, "Everyone is talking about the death of TV and the birth of digital but that is not so." 

But what is happening, according to Livek, is the erosion of Live TV viewing. He continued, "Fewer are watching live TV. They are using DVR and on demand platform and are segmented by time." In fact, "The majority of prime VOD viewing happens after 3 days of air."

This impacts the TV selling model which sells off C3 ratings. Further, when you view the Rentrak data through the prism of playback, it shows that certain programs are generally viewed at different playback intervals. Advertisers might benefit from placing ads in programs according to playback behavior which is something that Livek calls, "Time as a demographic."

The Business Model is Changing
For major content creators such as Ron Sanders, President Warner Brothers, Worldwide Home Entertainment Distribution, a “digital sell through opportunity” is emerging as the fastest growing home entertainment segment. What it offers is an early window to feature films in the home. Sanders said that “It is a way to keep consumers inside your cable system and keep them from ordering Netflix and Amazon.” He explained, “Once you buy it, you can download it or stream it to any device. And you can experience enhancements with a dynamically updated content structure. Now through digital we can add additional content over time such as interviews or extra directors content for example. It is a new digital service that expands the relationship with content that we've never had before. You can even copy and send your friends your favorite scenes.”

For Laura Fortner, EVP Marketing and Business Development, Whistle Sports, combining proven stars with emerging YouTube celebrities can not only be enjoyable for audiences, it can also produce unexpected fans. She explained, “We are learning how to combine the power of YouTube stars with other represented athletes. We tried an unexpected combination of talent in bowling trick shots with an amateur from Australia sharing his expertise with a professional bowler. The audience loved it and we had 21 million views. Millennials loved it even though bowling is an older sport.”

Embrace Technology or Die
Whether it is IP STBs or an initiative to expand TV everywhere, many companies are adapting to the changing technology and using it to improve the customer experience and satisfaction. Embracing technology is proving to be a very profitable way to sustain and enhance your business. The failure to embrace technology may prove to be your downfall.

Kevin Conroy, Chief Strategy & Data Officer and President, Enterprise Development at Univision, summed it up, “Choice always wins. The industry has not always offered the greatest choice or flexibility. It is all about choice and convenience. Brands that get it, that accept the new features of new technology and embrace the attributes of that new technology are in a position to win. It is never too late to get ahead of the curve. If you have audience and a value proposition and a willingness to innovate and push and are not be afraid to fail, take advantage of and continue to fuel the same level of innovation that made you great to begin with.”

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