Being a TV viewer in the Digital Era

Challenges and Opportunities for the Future of Broadcasting in the Digital Era

A. Afilipoaie, B. Anokye, D. Dodul, M. Esau, K. Gokhman, L. Zavala

A few decades ago, “watching television” was a daily habit that suddenly became a lost practice in the Digital Era due to the development of new technologies, the arrival of more and better devices and connectivity improvements that completely changed users’ experience, allowing them to watch whatever they want, at any time and in any place.

The internet damaging television

The internet offers new channels where users can participate in content production, creating a sense of ownership over the medium, a sense of empowerment that was absent in the era of television or broadcast media.

Less TV time in the digital era

Recent studies suggest that most consumers spend more time on smartphones, computers and tablets, rather than television. Insights from the Accenture Digital Consumer Survey 2017 (applied to 26,000 consumers in 26 countries) revealed a drop of 55% in consumers who prefer to watch TV, compared to the previous year.

This change goes beyond physical devices, it also concerns the way users actually choose specific content. Platforms such as Netflix and Amazon are taking over the battlefield, banishing the glory days of television broadcasters and attracting a significant percentage of the market to this new form of entertainment and information.

The Generational Gap

The generational gap also seems to play an essential role in consumer habits. According to the TV Viewing annex of the Ofcom Annual Research Report 2017, more mature audiences maintain their patterns related to watching scheduled content on television, while younger consumers move in a better way through online platforms.

According to the European Commission, two-thirds of young people watch TV series and films on the internet, and a third less traditional TV than before. On average, in the EU, TV viewing time has dropped in the past few years as content has moved online.

Rethinking Strategies and Seizing Opportunities

There have also been reports on TV advertising revenue decreasing and moving online. These trends are therefore raising some issues for the future of broadcasting in the digital era, which might find broadcasters between a rock and a hard place. Thus, broadcasters need to rethink their strategies, and they need to do it fast.

The future of broadcasting in the Digital Era is uncertain but it is also full of opportunities. It’s important to keep in mind that audiences are no longer only observers. Broadcasters are now dealing with full participants: users that interact, recommend, criticize, rate and share all kinds of information and content, which could represent a great reach advantage if they know how to make the most of it.

The Survival of Broadcasting

Will TV survive in the digital era? Undoubtedly, the survival of broadcasters will depend on how well they adapt to this new type of audience and their demands. Will they hang in there or will viewers simply cut the cord? When the older generation slowly disappears, how will broadcasting grasp the attention of this new generation that is driven by instant gratification and the condition of immediacy?  How can broadcasters compete with the online TV industry that seems to be gaining more and more momentum with each passing year?

With so many questions, it is difficult to gain an understanding of what could happen, however, there are experts in the field like Discovery Communications Vice President of Government Relations for EMEA and guest speaker for this week’s Brussels Talking Lecture Series, @RossBiggam, that can shed light on these issues and provide some insight.  Lucky for us, he will be front and center at VUB for a guest lecture Tomorrow, March 6th.


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