TV is dead — long live TV

In what amounts to a “dog bites man” sort of story, the BBC is reporting that online video is eating into TV watching, according to a recent survey. Gee, ya think? For every sign that building relationships with viewers online increases their loyalty to a particular show — which CBS said recently appears to be the case with some of the shows that it has released into the wild on the Internet — there are signs that overall TV viewership levels continue to decline.

What’s also happening, of course, is that any TV watching that is going on is happening very differently. I don’t know how many conversations I’ve had over the last little while with people who not only don’t watch as much TV as they used to, but watch it primarily with the use of a PVR, whenever they want to, and without commercials. All of this requires that TV networks and advertisers think about what they are doing in different ways, as Mike Urlocker points out on his blog.


TV still exists, obviously, and many people continue to like sitting around in groups watching “appointment television” shows like Survivor or Gilmore Girls or whatever (for me it’s Heroes). But it is also increasingly being sliced and diced and served up in a myriad of ways online, through YouTube and Revver and through the websites of the networks. More and more people are watching bits and pieces of shows instead of the whole thing. And as David Brazeal notes, quality doesn’t matter as much as we might like to think it does.

In other words, TV isn’t dying but evolving. What is it evolving into? Who knows. But the TV and the Internet are effectively becoming one thing, just as the Internet and the telephone are becoming one thing, and just as the Internet and the computer are increasingly becoming one thing. George Nimeh has some worthwhile thoughts on the subject too, and my friend Scott Karp from Publishing 2.0 wonders whether all this evolution is really just the video content business eating itself alive. Ian Delaney at TwoPointOuch has also written about it.

13 thoughts on “TV is dead — long live TV

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  5. Good points, Matthew. But even appointment television is changing. I missed the first half-dozen episodes of Heroes, so I flipped over to Bleenks and got caught up (albeit with Korean subtitles).

    I’m an extreme case, as most humans would just use their PVR.

    In the short-term this was probably very good for those involved with Heroes because now I’m hooked and I still like the high-quality of a TV broadcast.

    In the long-term, though, my behaviour should be very disturbing for those in the TV business.

    Parenthetically, I really like what CTV is doing with their replaying of shows. I watched an old Corner Gas (Blog River), and just today recommended to a friend that he get up to speed with Studio 60.

    Great post.

  6. Thanks, Ian. I haven’t checked out CTV’s broadband efforts much, but I will definitely take a look. I think the networks are smart to be experimenting with that kind of thing.

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  8. Hi,

    I think there is a need for researchers like ICM to ask the right questions …

    Of course people who watch more online video will watch less TV. There are only 24 hours in a day. But, what TV do those folks choose to watch? Are they influenced by what they’ve seen on the internet? Are they more likely to check out a show that they’ve seen/previewed online? Do they tell other people about what they’ve seen.

    More here:


  9. my only problem with Heroes (the only show I watch on TV, too) is that they’ve created too many characters and that is slowing the plot to a standstill as they try to give face time to everyone.

  10. I agree, engtech — things are getting kind of scattered. I hope they can manage to keep it all together.

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