Sunday, December 10, 2006

Old habits die hard...

I have to admit that I am a little surprised that the traditional media has fallen into their usual "summer schedule" for 2006/07, raking very hard at the bottom of the content barrel for muck to fill the timeslots until "ratings season" starts again in the new year. To some extent these "old habits" are a function of the way the industry used to work - things were measured during the ratings periods and the content offerings were scheduled accordingly... and I guess that "Liposuction Live 2002 - Where Are They Now" and re-runs of re-runs 0f re-runs are going too keep the viewers committed to good old free to air TV for what, 13 or 14 weeks.....

There has to be some risk to this strategy, since we are now in a time and a market where consumers have a wider range of choices. Sure there is some great sport on the box this summer, but the filler around it is not providing too many "must watch" moments from what I can see. To my mind, this is going to provide consumers with a good chance to try some new sources of entertainment and I expect that the rich media content websites live, YouTube and MySpace can expect to see some extra traffic over the coming couple of months.

I don't necessarily think that this will mean that consumers will leave TV in droves, but rather that there will be a bigger chunk of the viewing audience who come out of this summer period with a different set of expectations about how they obtain and consume their entertainment. Over the last year consumers have shown us that they want greater choice and flexibility in the way they get their entertainment and digital channels are increasingly an integral part of that.

In my opinion the smart operators are already acknowledging this and are implementing strategies to take advantage of the best that digital channels have to offer. Well constructed websites and mobile content provide great ways to engage consumers outside of the timeslots in which this content is broadcast. We are already seeing the internet being used to engage consumers in the lead up to, and alongside FTA TV content, as well as providing a way to maintain engagement after a show has been broadcast. I very strongly believe that the quality of the content will be what allows it to draw and retain an audience and integrating digital channels to the broadcast schedule will allow broadcasters to leverage this quality to a greater extent and for longer periods of time. In my opinion, it is important to create distinct engagement around the content as well as the broadcaster to ensure that consumers engage in the way which best suits them.

So what of this summer and summers coming? I think that the future will show us that customers want content which entertains them when they want to consume it. I may have missed an episode of a show and want to catch up on a story, be involved in the development of the next installment of the series, or be entertained by supporting content and services between seasons. For me, now is the time to acknowledge that consumers connect as much with the content as they do with the organisation who delivers it, and to implement strategies accordingly.

The great and exciting thing is that all of this is happening at a time when the technology, the channels and the understanding of the business have evolved sufficiently to help to realise the potential of digital channels. We have reached an exciting time in the evolution of entertainment and the industry it supports and are witnessing the consequences of the work we have done as we set about changing the world.


Foad Fadaghi said...

Print, TV, Radio and Online all undergo a decline in circulation and audience over this period.

Yes online too. Just check the seasonality in the NetRatings figures. The audience and media consumption habits change and there is little evidence that shifts in behaviour are formed just from the silly season (apart from the drinking habits!!) - yes people rent more DVDs but it doesn't mean they no longer watch TV when the normal programming returns.

The shift is happening but its a long process, being influenced by much more than seasonality.

Maybe this trend will change but I can't see TV stations investing in non-ratings periods particularly when advertisers are entrenched in keeping purses tight during this time. Which incidentally has flow on effects to online media, which doesn't have a scheduled off season, but ad revenues seem to fall drop off also.

Brendon Matheson said...

In the US at least, the traditional networks are trying to figure out how to deal with the YouTube threat