Monday, September 01, 2008

Why TV May Sweat the Future

There have been numerous changes in the way people find the news, entertainment, and information they want over the last decade and most of the volatility is driven by one thing, the Internet. The Internet has required every media to innovate or become obsolete and very few traditional media maintain only one presence. Virtually everyone wants to be seen online.

Still, in spite of the best efforts to become current, television is beginning to assess its future. Recently, Mediabistro.com indicated that the ratings game is giving people a future glimpse at the long term viability of TV. It noted: "The adults 18-49 demographic remains the gold standard among advertisers -- yet TV audiences keep getting greyer. According to Nielsen's 2008-09 national universe estimates, the 55-plus age bracket is by far the fastest-growing TV audience demo -- accelerating at twice the rate of the overall TV audience."

This is very grim for TV. That demographic is usually no longer accumulating wealth, but instead preserving. They don't plan on dramatically increasing income, but trying to hold on to what they have. Advertisers worship that group that is just out of high school and up to the late 40s. They are making money and they are spending. It seems to make sense that this group will only continue to grow older and those who are behind it in age will only shrink as they become even more web savvy.

Why is this happening? Because people are finding what they want, when they want it, on the Internet. I don't need to tell you that you can find all the video you can possibly consume, audio you want to hear, and articles you need to read, online. Furthermore, you usually have absolute control of the access.

TV costs money (if you want enough channels that are worth watching) and if you want to control the times you watch programming, you have to pay extra for it (in the form of a DVR or TIVO). Increasingly, TV seems so "yesterday". In spite of its bets efforts to get more TV content on the web, most people see it limping behind the web.

Even as I prepare to give my radio show a more national presence and a TV "feel" (via video) I wouldn't even bother pursuing such if it weren't for the Internet. However, because of the Internet, the fact we own a web platform with a presence in virtually every major US city, we will have a national news program in the preferred media of the younger generations. I believe the massive shift from TV to the web will only continue.

TV won't go away, but it is going to have to continue to adapt to remain relevant.

Kevin Price's articles are found daily in national publications such as USA Today, Chicago Sun Times, and Reuters. Subscribe to his newsletter here.

Kevin Price is Host of the Houston Business Show (M-F at 11 AM on CNN 650) and Publisher of the Houston Business Review.

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