R.I.P., TV. You may have missed its obituary, but TV has in fact been dead for a few years.
While some media industry pundits have been predicting its demise for a some time now, TV as we know it really started dying with the rise of 3 main technology events:
According to Nielsen, during the September 2015 premiere week, the Big Four networks were down about 10% in all key categories, including adults 18-49 (8.5 rating vs. 9.5) and total viewers (31 million vs. 34.3 million). Through the first 11 weeks of the 35-week regular-season TV schedule, only three legacy programs (NBC's "Sunday Night Football," Fox's "Empire" and ABC's "The Middle”) had improved upon their year-ago ratings numbers, while no fewer than 39 returning series suffered double-digit percentage declines.
It’s just as bad for Cable TV, with only three of the top 25 cable networks (AMC, HGTV and Investigation Discovery) demonstrating year-over-year primetime ratings growth between 2014 and 2015. Among the remaining networks in the top 25, the average rate of viewership decline was 12%, and seven of those networks experienced a 20 percent drop in primetime viewership.
This is indeed being driven by the millennial generation, which according to the U.S. Census Bureau is projected to surpass the baby boomers as the nation’s largest living generation this year. Millennials (defined as between ages 18 to 34 in 2015) are projected to number 75.3 million, surpassing the projected 74.9 million boomers (ages 51 to 69). To give you a sense of millenials’ massive scale, the Generation X population (ages 35 to 50 in 2015) isn’t projected to outnumber boomers until 2028.
As the most digitally savvy generation, millennials are indeed “cutting the cord.” This has translated into nine of the top 10 cable, satellite and telco TV distributors losing a combined 300,000 TV customers in the second quarter, according to FierceCable.
With the advent of the Internet, all media, including television, has been on a journey to become more personalized and customized. Some call this making media more “addressable” – to address an individual consumer’s needs and wants. Some call this making media “data-driven”. Whatever you call it, it’s now the new normal.
If you’re a consumer, you want to have your content the way you want it, when you want it. And that’s why TV viewing is up. That’s why other industry pundits are saying we’re entering the “Golden Age of TV”.
Consumers are actually watching more TV content, they’re just not watching it the way we’ve historically defined it – as traditional “linear” viewing. Whether you stream it, binge watch or DVR it, “non-linear” viewing of video is here to stay.
Netflix now has more than  million subscribers in the U.S. (69 million in total worldwide) and Hulu has nearly 10 million. Amazon and Apple are just starting to flex their TV muscles. Screens continue to proliferate (how many do you have? I primarily use 4 – my iPhone 6S plus, a Samsung TV, an iPad Pro, and my Macbook Pro). And more and more content is being produced (both professional and amateur) to feed all of our devices. This is really just the beginning of the new golden age of TV.
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