Monday, March 30, 2009

TV "Not Dead"

Sorry this isn't another post slagging off the latest viral, but I do think it's important.

Bob Hoffman (The Ad Contrarian) has written the best refutation I've ever seen of the "TV is dead" argument.

His jumping-off point was a story in The New York Times last week about a massive new piece of research conducted in America, which showed that “Even though people have the opportunity to watch video on their computers and cellphones, TV accounted for 99 percent of all video consumed in 2008."

If you're far too extremely busy to read Bob's full piece, here is the four-word summary:

TV still kicks ass


Anonymous said...

I think this is absolutely spot on.
Digital is an incredibly important new channel, but that's exactly what it is another channel.
I think we'll find TV and Digital rubbing along nicely side by side in the years to come.
I think he's exactly right when he says the death of Television has been exaggerated by web promoters (amongst others).
Of course it has - they need to grow their new business model.
Long live TV and digital - that's what I say.

Bentos said...

(Immediate response without having read the original article)

Surely the battle isn't so much between TV and Digital but the traditional TV schedule and On Demand consumption of content. I seem to know far more people who watch shows like Lost, Heroes, Mad Men and The Wire through Sky+, downloads and DVD box sets than when it's actually broadcast.

Maybe this will continue to be a niche phenomenon for this kind of high quality import, Corrie and The X-Factor after all aren't going anywhere soon, but maybe the vast majority of 'TV' style content will be consumed like this in the future.

The challenge is where does advertising fit in to On Demand viewing.

Integral said...


Read the original article, which says most people don't use on-demand recorders.

Bentos said...

So I guess that's pretty much what the articles about then, huh?

"TV viewing has risen at least 7% since 2000 which means the positive effect of more TV viewing is double the negative effect of DVR ad-skipping"

Didn't someone once say something about a dead cat bounce?

Bodecker said...

I saw that his piece quotes the following research...

"99% of video viewing was done on a television in the past year."

Now I do about .000000001% of my viewing on a television. It's only ever happened once, about 15 years ago when I tripped over the cat and end up on top of the black and white Hitachi that was sitting in the corner of the room.

Anonymous said...

I'm not ging to argue with the figures but if TV advertising is as important as ever why exactly isn't it treated that way.

Hardly any of the brands that I remember being big TV advertisers in the 90's and who produced ads that you'd actively look forward to seeing still do. I'm thinking Levis, Carslberg, Heineken, Boddingtons, Tango, Volvo, XBOX, John Smiths, Holsten, Playstation... Even the stuff that was crap back then and still is, stuff like Vauxhall, at least looked like it had money behind it. Now everything just looks a bit cheap.

So one way or another the medium has been devalued, at least as far as creativity is concerned has it not?

I'd be interested to hear other peoples thoughts on this. said...

And radio will live for ever too.

Anonymous said...

Capitalism happened. The belief that if something is cheap it is automatically better.
I give you...
a) Buses without expensive conductors on them.
b) Call centres in Bombay rather than expensive Britain.
c) Self service tills in Sainsbury's instead of expensive till people.
d) A recorded voice on the telephone giving you a list of alternative requirements that you might need, none of which match your requirments instead of an expensive real person on the end of the phone asking you what you want.

ie. you get what you pay for. Clients don't want to pay much so they get worse ads. It doesn't matter to them what the ad looks like as long as it's cheap.

Anonymous said...

Here we go again.

I don't know why we compare the two anyway.

Anonymous said...


I agree with the gist of what you are saying. It's capitalism in action. And clients have calculated that presenting your brand in an aspirational way on TV is a bad investment on the basis of good information presumably.

So does TV still kick ass or not?

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more.

The media industry may spend all day on the net, watching viral ads, reading blogs and pounding YouTube, but we're a minority.

Unlike us, everybody else in the real world has proper jobs where they can't do that sort of thing.

So the only place they can do it at home. But oddly enough, after spending 10 hours sat in front of a computer at work, the first thing they don't do when they get home is switch on the PC.

As for clips and movies on phones, it's all bollocks. It takes me 5 minutes to download some bullshit, pixelated Youtube clip on my iPhone.

What consumer could really give a fuck?

that's what she said...

Heh heh heh...Bob's full piece...

Anonymous said...

Re: 1:41

100% correct.

Anonymous said...

Can somebody change the channel?

Anonymous said...

Sigh. Does it really need saying again? It's the business of passive engagement that is in trouble. Comparing TV with Youtube or whatever is moot.

What consumers want and what is most effective is advertising that is really unrecognisable as such. In some respects it's more like brand extension and is more likely to be expressed through technical innovation - so not things that entertain but things that they can use - things that make their lives easier or more productive or more fun.

I'm sorry but to be thinking of digital advertising as clips and downloads this late in the game is a little bit thick.

Anonymous said...

those poor worker drones who can't access the internet at work are getting home and watching timeshifted Toughest Towns from late last night on bravo cos they had to be up at dawn t' go down t'pit and couldn't overcome the drowsiness inherent in six cans of stella - do you think they are dutifully sitting through the toss that is 95% of tv advertising?

Rachel said...

Even though I'm a committed digital person, I've never said TV is dead. It's just different. And it's fighting back. There was an interesting panel at SXSW, which included a BBC(3) person, looking at how they are trying to do things differently with programmes and the web.

Now that's not commercial, but what they do will impact the other stations. If you want an example from ITV, look at what they were doing on Saturday evening with Primeval.

During the live showing, they put it on simultaneously on the web, also including a live Twitter conversation. You were getting instant reaction amongst watchers and from the programme. You got the ads with the live stream; although there was little interaction about them!

Antony Mouse said...

For those of you who were complaining about scam ads at award ceremonies, you may enjoy reading this:

GOUT-LEGS said...

600,000 people have SKY + and about half that have some other equivalent. (V+, TIVO ect...)
That's out of 70 million.
There are still plenty of people who have no choice BUT to watch tv ads.
It's still the most powerful mass communication medium. When you get it right.
Oh, and here's another stat for you. 46% of SKY + users from july to december last year, didn't fast forward the adverts.
put that in yer pipe and smoke it.

Sell! Sell! said...

Happily working away in traditional and digital formats, on things that you would class as 'advertising' and some things that you might not, it makes me chuckle when I see this argument played out time and time again. What is the point?

Why do people feel the need to react against the news that people are watching quite a lot of telly?

Digital/the interweb offers clients a different place to do advertising in the traditional sense but also, more importantly, to do all sorts of other interesting and new things that you wouldn't think of as ads that either add to the consumers experience, connect with them, or help them in some way (eg Nike+, Nike id), which is great. Confusing the second kind of digital-based stuff with advertising is what causes a lot of the hubbub. It's not. It's different. It's a whole new discipline.

Yet conventional advertising isn't dead, nor is it likely to be in our lifetimes. Companies will always have a need to reach out to people beyond their current customer with all kinds of messages.

It's like an ongoing argument between the product development department and the customer relations department of a company about who is best, and each saying the other is pointless. While all of the time, both things are important for the company.

People working in the media, tech and creative companies have a much higher use of technology Sky+ etc. than the average Joe. Not everyone is like you. Some people like to sit with their tea, or when the kids are in bed, and watch Corrie. Then go on tinternet. Get over it. Normal people complain about ads from time to time, but for the most part couldn't give a monkey's.

Smart clients will realise over time that they need to do both well. Then maybe the pointless arguing will stop, and everyone will get on with doing their stuff.

Anonymous said...

nice post. the unspoken heresy about online is that it is simply a lousy advertising environment. anyone who's worked in it knows that.

banner ads? poo. viral? good luck. social media? yawn.

internets doesn't need advertising. TV does. ergo TV is better.

Anonymous said...

anon 4.23,

you're right in theory but it will never happen in a big way. brands don't want to be useful. they just want to sell shit. they just want to make money. not have a dialogue or brand conversation.

there are exceptions to this but they are just that: execeptional.

most people simply can't be arsed, ergo most brands simply can't be arsed either. just because it can and should happen doesn't mean it will.

you are right though. being useful is the new thing to aim for. it's the new being fun and cool. it's just less glamourous to an industry that mistakenly thinks it's cool and glamourous.

Anonymous said...

I don't think TV (or print) is dead but I think that how people consume these is fundamentally changing. It has been estimated that the average 16 year old is 'living' over 30 hours in a 24 hour period because they are on multiple devices at any one time. I think this shift in how media is being consumed rather than just what media is consumed is the big shift. How content/advertising is packaged is going to radically change.

The music industry is a good example of how things will change. 14-25 year olds are spending more time than ever in history listening to music and are collecting more music than ever before but they aren't paying for it. Revenue from recorded music (including downloads) is at an all time low. But what is really interesting is that there has been a massive shift to live music and the role of the original media (the recorded music) is now an 'ad' for the live tour and merch where massive profits are being made.

I think that we have only seen the start of the same thing happening with motion. I think 'TV' will still exist in ten years and we will still be spending hours staring at it but I am not sure what we will be looking at and what advertising in that space will look like.

Anonymous said...

Most consumers are too lazy to stop watching TV. And they're the ones who can be manipulated by advertisers into switching brands.

Bentos said...

Yeah, Nike recently launched their 5AS campaign with a TV ad in the middle of a Champions League match and a simultaneous YouTube homepage takeover.

There's plenty of research saying that people are watching TV whilst simultaneously browsing YouTube so this makes a lot of sense.

Phil said...

"TV not dead yet" would be a better title for this post. The idea that scheduled TV in it's current form with it's current advertising model will still exist in 20 years is ludicrous. For the moment though Sell! Sell! is right - for the average joe scheduled TV is still going to be a very effective advertising channel.

As for those saying digital is a lousy place to advertise, they're right - you can't really advertise in the traditional sense online. That's why formats like banner ads under perform so badly.

Rob Mortimer (aka Famous Rob) said...

The problem is:

A lot of people have a lot of financial reasons to declare TV dead. Others have political or work related reasons to do so.

People have fretted over the death of TV for years. And whilst I hate to say Lovemarks is right... it is accurate when it talks about TV being reduced but still part of a group of media we use.

Anonymous said...

This research is SO US-centric. The figures, especially for emerging markets, are completely different. In Brazil, for example, online video consumption is fast catching up to TV.

Anonymous said...

Rob M. is right. you'll notice that those crowing loudest about the "death" of TV are usually digital types. and guess what, they can't do TV advertising. TV will never die because people have always loved mindless entertainment, ie watching stories happen.

Anonymous said...


Sorry I kind of resent being told digital creatives can't do TV. I can. Do you understand digital? I'm sure you could. Not sure you could be bothered though.

Anonymous said...

TV has never been in better health. Channel 4 is even thinking of merging with Channel 5, business is so good. And ads on TV have never been more creative or more epic in scale with massive budgets and stunning big ideas that will become brand properites for eons. Everything is great. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.

Anonymous said...


i don't know you. are you a digital only creative? maybe you can do tv. have you done any great tv ads? that would prove that you can. if you haven't it's speculation.

i have worked in both worlds for years. believe me i "understand digital". all i was saying is that there is an undeniable (and understandable) tendency by digital-only types to diss TV as being "old". which is insanity.

TV is a great advertising medium. Online isn't. That is not a subjective conclusion. i know that from experience.

Anonymous said...

Just tonight I was 'informed' by someone describing themselves as 'a big, new name' in advertising, that TV is officially dead. I know that I'll never be going back to that agency again. Complete and utter bollocks

Anonymous said...

I know you're not allowed to leave personal comments on this site so I'm gonna keep this cryptic. That way there's no chance of them being insulted.

One of the contibutors to this page is a moron. That is not a subjective conclusion. I know that from experience.

john p woods said...

TV is here to stay it will never die:

Anonymous said...

And then Saatchis lost the account over it:

Anonymous said...

sounds like anon 2.27 has run out of argument juice. arguing, like TV, is hard.

Oh God it's a planner... said...

There are two things for me.

1) In a lot of cases, if you are not on TV, your consumer doesn't take you seriously. It is a question of perceived scale. People are attracted to confidence.

2) In this world of fragmented media we should produce creative that is fit for purpose (i.e. reaches our desired consumer). Sometimes this just happens to be TV.

However, TV alone will not do the job anymore. And none of us 'traditional' lot disagree with that.

[Some] digital types just need to get that Harry Ramsdens Chip Shop off their shoulder and get on with it.

Anonymous said...

I can understand why some abl creatives think we have a chip on our shoulders and some of us undoubtably do but if I get worked up about it it is because working in a creative field, which is what we all do, we're supposed to be open minded and receptive to change. We should see it as an opportunity. It goes against everything I stand for to be closed-minded and honestly I believe it should be against everything you stand for too. All this talk about how digital people can't do TV and TV people can't do digital is depressingly immature. There are talented people in both fields and given the opportunity they would be as likely to do well in each. Advertising is supposed to innovate but you'd never know it with some of the people who work in it.