If you’re one of the increasing numbers of people without cable service or even a TV, broadcasters are worried about you. If your ears are burning next week it will be because you’re the topic of conversation in many of the meetings at the National Association of Broadcasters meeting in Las Vegas.
The worrying trend for broadcasters is that your numbers are growing; from around 2 million in 2007 to over 5 million today. One of the problems broadcasters have is even how to count the shadowy numbers of those of you without cable, satellite dish or even a TV with an air antenna.
It’s a given that cable and satellite are losing viewers to internet providers like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon but those numbers are harder to track. Many of the internet providers are stingy with their subscriber and viewership numbers as the media discovered after Netflix released its popular House of Cards series starring Kevin Spacey.
Phones are starting to become another broadcast outlet as mobile streaming gets better and bandwidth caps start to loosen in painful slowness compared to the demand from the market. Many are finding they can keep tabs on their favorite shows via mobile streaming, another razor cut to the broadcast audience. A few have even stretched that to adopt a completely mobile lifestyle; no cords and not even a permanent address.
Broadcasters are not losing sleep over you…yet. So far they’ve managed to keep revenues up by charging higher and higher ad rates for a declining market share. What that sounds counter-intuitive it makes sense when you realize that, even though the broadcast market is shrinking, it still represents a large, cohesive pool of eyeballs and advertisers haven’t quite accepted the inevitability of chasing you around the internet and figure out how to get around ad blocking software.
Broadcasters will start to lose sleep if they can’t figure out where the market…you…are going and figure out how to get ads to you in a meaningful way. There is evidence, presented by Nomura Equity Research’s Michael Nathanson, (http://www.deadline.com/2013/03/tv-advertising-weakness-economy-internet-analyst-report/) that suggests ad revenue is leveling off and the days when broadcasters can charge more and more for less and less are numbered and they know it.
Interestingly I warned this very same group about the disruptive potential of the internet in a keynote address to NAB many years ago and they, literally, laughed it off. They didn’t get it then and, even though some of them see their interns watching their favorite shows on smartphones and tablets, I’m not convinced they get it now. I’d like to tell you they were working on better, interactive ads and more sophisticated product placement, but the sad truth is they’re still trying to figure out how to force you into their old revenue model. They’re still mostly doing what they’ve always done.
I know among this group some of you are trying to remember the last time you did watch TV. How are you disrupting the broadcast television world and how long have you been doing it? Do you watch any live TV anymore or is all digital on your time? You’re starting to trouble big shots at broadcast networks and they just haven’t figured out what do about you.
How’s it feel to be a rebel?