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TV As We Know It Is Dying

by Chris Poindexter

The television model that we all grew up with is dying. For sure it will be a long, lingering death; some experts say it could limp along for another 20 years before it finally succumbs to the inevitable.

The old model of television is build on what’s called interruptive advertising. In the old days an announcer would cut in to tell you who the show sponsor was that night. Those were quickly replaced by commercials and the commercials themselves were bundled into ad networks. At a certain level, consumers have always resented interruptive advertising and, ever since the MUTE button was invented for the remote control, there’s been a kind of arms race between content providers, who want you to watch commercials, and consumers who don’t.

Providers Have Only Themselves To Blame

When it comes to the death of traditional TV, content providers have only themselves to blame. In the old days, an hour long TV program had 10 minutes of commercials, then it was 15, until today where some content providers are hitting you with a staggering 24:29 of commercial time for every prime time programming hour.

Content providers are going to silly extremes to pack more commercials into an hour of television. Some are compressing the content in subtle ways, speeding up the playback to allow more commercial time. With that kind of stupidity rampant in the industry, it’s little wonder why services like commercial free Netflix are exploding in popularity.

Reality TV and Late Night TV The Biggest Offenders

Unscripted reality TV has an average of 19:16 per hour of brand appearances compared to just 5:31 for scripted programming, like sitcoms and dramas. Late night television was the worst offender with a combined 29:40 of brand appearances and commercials. That means half of the time you’re watching late night TV, you’re watching an ad. Many channels have just dropped the pretext of offering programming altogether and simply list Paid Programming for large portions of their nighttime programming.

TV Death Watch

Wall Street analysts are starting to tell their clients that ad-supported TV, at least in the U.S., is “structurally impaired” when it comes to value. That lost value is never expected to come back.

Investors Won’t Hang On To The Bitter End

One truth about corporate finances that seems to escape many is that sales don’t have to plunge to zero before a company or enterprise goes out of business. Sometimes all it takes is a decline of 5%-10% in revenue to kick off the downward slide.

What’s been keeping your local broadcast TV stations in business are affiliate fees, which are fees the cable company pays to include their station, which are then passed on to you. Affiliate fees and the local news are all that’s keeping your local stations on the air and analysts believe they too will start folding up.

The internet is changing how we get content and it’s probably time for the old interruptive model, which no one really liked anyway, to die. Farewell, old TV model.

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