Is television a dying medium?


It’s been a key entertainment staple and marketing platform for decades.


…but as TV closes out its golden 50th decade, is the shine off the apple?

I can’t count the number of shows that I’ve not kept up with because I couldn’t keep to ‘schedule’. I mean, I’m a uni student – I’m studying, I’m working, I’ve got assignments, a social life, trying to stay relatively healthy and see my family. Fitting all of that in is quite the juggling act itself.

Then you want to tell me that there’s a non-negotiable time that I have to be free every week if I want to understand what is happening?

Umm, no thank you!


And I’m not the only one. Our viewing habits have changed dramatically. More and more people are recording programs to watch at their convenience, using internet TV to watch shows ‘on demand’, or catching up with what they’ve missed online.


According to Neilsen’s Multi-screen Report for Australia (Q1, 2013)

  • We’re spending about 5 hours less each month watching live TV than we were 1 year ago
  • The amount of recorded TV shows that we’re watching is increasing
  • The amount of video that Aussies are watching online has more than doubled in 12 months

Not only that, but we’re more distracted. Sitting down in front of the television to watch a show is not an isolated activity. We’re bringing our other screens with us; laptops, mobile phones, tablets.


It’s a tough gig out there these days to capture an audience’s attention through a television ad: we’re muting the ads, playing with our laptops/tablets/phones, fast-forwarding our pre-recorded programs during the breaks. Basically finding any way that we can to avoid actually paying attention to the ads. It’s an expensive medium to be ignored in.

And brands are starting to catch on to the online trend. Online advertising has become the dominant medium for ad space in Australia. During the first half of the year companies spent $1,882,600 on online advertising, compared with $1,805,400 on free-to-air TV (see B&T).

B&T-figureMobile has been the main driver of growth, seeing a 190% increase in usage, as advertisers move their budgets to match consumer behaviour. There are 13 million Aussies streaming video content each month.

2013-08-26 19.36.34

These days, people are just getting busier. The idea of scheduling our time around TV doesn’t make any sense. TV should be available when we are free. TV on demand, internet catch up TV – these are the things that are growing in popularity. Recording shows for later, waiting for shows to come out on DVD so you can watch the whole thing without having to wait, or when you’re free. Streaming TV and torrents are on the rise.


So what’s the future like for TV? Personally I see it becoming more of a ‘made to order’ program, rather than the ‘set menu’ style of the past.

Let me know in the comments –

  • Is there a show you still make time for every week? Or do you prefer to catch up online?
  • Do you think that television advertising is worth the money?
  • Or, should more companies make the switch to online advertising?

Until next time,

N. Apple_bitten.svga


35 responses to “Is television a dying medium?

  1. I personally rarely watch TV unless it is for live sports, i use my laptop to watch everything. I think that companies should invest heavily in online advertising as people are spending a lot more time on the internet then they do watching TV

    • That’s definitely a growing trend – especially with younger Aussies! I hope the networks step up their online viewing platforms – some are just awful. I’ve watched 5 of the same 30 second ad in a row once. Do you think you would you be more likely to watch on your TV if you could customise your program list? 🙂

  2. Very interesting that television viewing has reduced, I mean it makes sense, and we are simply replacing one screen with another. It always surprises me that given the popularity of sites such as Facebook, the ads that make their way to my newsfeed are always from quite obscure, slightly dodgy-sounding companies.
    But the television ad is such a comprehensive way of putting forward an idea, with the use of audio and visual, pop-up ads on the internet seem unlikely to completely replace it. Maybe we’re in for more youtube “before your video starts” ads – help us!

    • I think you’re right. Or more online television viewing with ads – I just hope broadcasters are able to avoid bombarding us with too many ads online, defeats the purpose! Or maybe we’ll just keep downloading shows and movies to watch ad-free!

  3. I honestly never watched TV unless it’s a very important news *like the royal wedding, tsunami or so* I used to watch everything *even TV shows* online, so one thing I’m sure off that if the company wants to reach larger pools then they absolutely need to enter the online world. 😉

    • Definitely. You’re right, we seem to be following the trend in the United States of moving towards more interactive and customised ways to view our entertainment. We’re becoming such a convenience-driven society – I think online forms of TV and internet TV are probably the way of the future 🙂

  4. I stop watching TV for several years since online contents are easily reach and with the distraction of my iPhone, my youtube channels and shows that I could easily tap online, I don’t think TV are worth watching nowadays. Television companies should try to tap on online media as their next phase of plan, who knows? In the future we might have just gigantic computer screen in the living room rather than a television.

    • Yeah I agree – it’s so easy with the internet. You can watch what you actually want to see, when it suits you. I’ve definitely starting watching more YouTubers and online TV, not saying that I’d never watch normal TV but it just doesn’t hold my attention like it used to. I am excited for the day that we can make our own TV programs online 🙂

  5. Nowadays, watching TV is like only 1% of my life and grabbing some current news are through tablets and smartphones.
    Missed a TV show? There’s a free file sharing site so no problemo.
    About TV ads, I think there’s still value in it because some people are still in favour of TV.

  6. Brilliant post, Nat! The multi-screen viewing is an interesting trend – because we can’t really multi-task that well, so I don’t think we’re really getting much from the content on either screen!

    I watch a relatively large number of TV programs… but none of them are on free-to-air TV. Between Tivo, Netflix streaming and other distribution channels, there’s no need to lock myself in to a certain time each week with so many ads to sit through. If we’re not watching the ads though – where is the content of the future going to come from? Can the networks survive using their current model?

    Do you think advertisers get more bang for buck going for traditional forms of media (TV, radio, etc)? We are more locked in to viewing the advertising content on these platforms – as opposed to online, where one can easily disable ads with plug-ins, etc, and click-through rates aren’t much to write home about.

    • Great question. I don’t see TV ads dying completely, but I definitely think that they’re no longer the golden medium. A bit like radio, they’ve still got a place, but I think television stations may need to rethink their models to survive long-term. What that could look like though, I’m not sure

  7. These days I rarely use the tv anymore cus you can watch everything online, if not then there are plenty file sharing websites out there. Although most tv shows today try to engage audience to watch the shows live by encouraging them to tweet live. That way, viewers get the ‘live’ experience, which, i think, is exciting in a way.

    Television advertising is extremely costly because of its coverage. In some countries, i think its still worth the money because large portion of the population do not have internet access, and so tv ads can be a massive communication tool for brands.

    Great post! I enjoyed reading it 🙂

    • That’s a good point – I suppose it’s still a more effective medium for older demographics who are less likely to be using second screens or streaming videos. It is crazy how much money is needed for a TV campaign comparatively. The fact that online spending has moved ahead of TV just shows the amount of brands that aren’t seeing the value of TV as much as online.

      The live tweets are a good idea to encourage people to engage with the medium, but maybe the way they show us their ads will have to evolve to be more like that rather than just a broadcast. Great insight 🙂

  8. sometimes, it depends on the content. shows like ” the X factor” is on-air in TV first, ads along with the show will be effective. but if your target audiences are’t consuming ” the X factor” content, then it’s not effective. Great insight from your blog

    • That’s a good point, although if you’re not able to make the X Factor time slot, I’d imagine Channel 7 would allow you to watch it online as catch up TV. The nature of how TV ads are portrayed hasn’t really evolved much, but hopefully they will be able to find new ways to keep our attention 🙂

  9. I think a reason people are opting to watch online instead of shows nowadays is just simply the shows we are enjoying. The really popular shows of late in my opinion include; The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Sons of Anarchy etc. They aren’t on commercial TV in australia as far as i am aware but even if they are on stuff such as Foxtel, I think the content in these shows just make people want to watch them alone. I enjoy watching something like Game of Thrones on my computer screen but it’d be really awkward if I was watching on a LCD tv and my parents walked past during a sex scene lol

    Nice post!

    • Hahaha, really good point! Definitely not a show you’d want to sit down and watch as a family. It would be great if more of the shows that are becoming really popular would get broadcast on the free-to-air networks – it’ll be interesting to see how Foxtel manages to stay relevant/ provide value as more consumers decide to go online to watch what they want to see. If you’re not watching it already – Revenge is also pretty good 🙂

  10. I totally agree. Theres as interesting (if more) sources of entertainment available so much more readily and easily. Even when good shows come on, its dragged on by “one episode each week”, not to mention they need to step up the timing game…

    • Exactly! I really struggle with the whole week wait in between – I’ve become too used to being able to just keep going to the next episode! You’re right about the timing too – by the time a show’s out here you could’ve already watched most of a series. Though there’s some I’d watch again 🙂

  11. We must be on the same blogging train of thought this week Natalie! TV advertising is SO expensive and I think it’s becoming less relevant in comparison to digital. Yet so many companies still have a combined digital/traditional advertising program. I say save the money…

    • Well you know what they say, great minds think alike 🙂 it is ridiculous how much you spend versus other mediums. Maybe in the future it will become more affordable as digital advertising takes more of a centre stage role. There are still target markets you can reach on TV, but it’s not the cache it once was

  12. I still watch tv but I have Foxtel IQ so I can record all the shows I watch and fast forward through the ads. Even when I’m at home I occasionally will go away and do something else for 15 minutes so I can delay the recording and skip the ads. Or otherwise I will record 2-3 episodes of a show, or even a whole series and watch them in one ad free marathon. If I don’t really care about the show, I might sit through the ads, but usually I will go and do something else or put the tv on mute. I really don’t think companies should be focusing on tv as a medium for advertising as much as they used to because people are smart enough to find ways of enjoying their shows ad free.

    • So you’d definitely agree that these ads are not effective at getting your attention then? Very true, there are so many options these days, the old model doesn’t seem to be working. Time for change 🙂

  13. i personally think tv as a medium for marketing is still important, especially if companies want to reach particular segments such as elders, who most likely are still not very familiar with all the new tech

  14. I think the amount of TV advertising should be very much determined also on your target segment. Most people who have commented on your post have said they rarely make time for TV anymore, however as consumers we can be segmented into the tech-savy, younger generation. On the other hand, my mum always makes time to watch her TV shows on a regular basis, and would rarely be reached through online marketing campaigns. Therefore with the changing focus of marketing advertising, I think it is vital for marketers to be smart and selective dependant on their target consumers.

    • Very true. Completely agree – your target audience should determine your media mix. It’s not that there’s no longer a place for advertising on TV, but the higher price has always been in some part due to the ability to reach large audiences – if they’re not really reaching as many people it will be interesting to see if the medium actually becomes more affordable in the next few years.

  15. I think at this point only big brand with the big bucks can even afford TV advertising. We’re seeing more and more companies trying to feature their products into tv shows. that way even if the program is recorded the brand still gets the exposure. I think that might be the way to the future. but even that is still very expensive.
    I dont think tv advertising will ever die out completely, as many people still watch it, many not the younger generations but I occasionally watch it from time to time. The problem is Ive seen most of the shows already because i download them. So I started watching reality tv shows that i cant download. I do make time every sunday night to watch “The real housewifes of New jersey” and “Australia’s next top model”

    • Exactly, there are many companies out there that just can’t justify the spend in their marketing budgets for TV advertising, though I’d say maybe they’re better off 🙂 that’s very true, product placements are still seen a lot – especially sponsorships (like Nissan with Top Model) as a way to get their products in the actual show 🙂

  16. I agree with your view Nat! I dont watch TV anymore, the emergence of streaming from any mobile device surpasses that of TV for me. As a uni student, TV schedules arent a thing for me, with the flexibility of streaming a show anytime I want anywhere! However, I dont think TV would become irrelevant yet for now, with much older ppl like my parents who still prefers watching their shows via digital TV 🙂

  17. So very true! I honestly cannot remember the last time I watched T.V. (yes, that’s how bad it is). it’s all about downloading those shows and streaming soccer matches on my laptop now 🙂

    • Exactly! The next generation’s consumption of TV is so different, the way we want to be entertained is on our schedule. Love that even live sports end up being watched online now 🙂

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