Friday, February 20, 2015

TV Trying To Hasten Its Death

It seems to me that television wants to quicken its demise.  Both higher subscription fees and an increase in advertising spots only pushes viewers to seek alternatives.  The more you push us, the faster we leave.  And rather than learn from its mistakes and seek ways to pull us back in, cable television prefers to drive another stake into its own coffin.

The latest effort was unearthed earlier this week in The Wall Street Journal.  According to WSJ, "As they contend with steep ratings declines, many top cable networks are jamming more ads into programming to meet audience guarantees made to advertisers and prop up revenue despite falling ad prices." How they do it is by speeding up shows and movies and cutting extraneous seconds from programming.  With every :30 seconds or so you can produce, another ad gets sold. 

Frankly, it is not so innovative; networks have been doing this for a while.  Just try watching the end credits to see just how fast they can scroll down the page.  Need to squeeze more time out of a show, just watch how the opening of one show starts even before the prior show has finished.  At some point, you can expect that networks will get rid of credits all together.  So how can viewers watch shows the way they were created?  Subscribers can watch seasons of syndicated and new shows on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and elsewhere without any of this gimmickry. 

Why too are networks measuring current TV viewership beyond same day to encompass +3 or +7?  The push to increase ad load leads to current cable subscribers to DVR or TiVo content that can later be watched while fast forwarding through the commercials.  With ads accounting for 12 minutes or more of every half hour program, TV watchers can more efficiently watch their shows without this dreadful overload.

Bottom line, the cable networks are watching ratings decline as viewers are fleeing their television set.  Revenue is trying to be maintained by increasing rates to advertisers and pushing more ads into shows.  But this short term strategy is only hastening television's erosion.  Certainly content will flourish on other distribution platforms as television keeps pushing viewers away.