Broadcast TV: 5’11” Deep and Still Digging


When originally started this article, I was going to start with a bunch of statistics that showed that broadcast TV was dying quickly, due to video-on-demand (VoD) and the internet, and then assert that they need to change to become more attractive to their existing viewers.

After a bit of Googling, it appears that this is a bit of a myth.  TV viewing is still growing as an advertising medium, but the dominance of specific networks definitely seems to be dropping.  There is a proliferation of channels, enabled by things like VoD, fiber to the home (Verizon FiOS for example) and switched digital video to optimize cable plant.  Certainly things like TiVo and PVR’s allow you to skip commercials, which makes attracting advertising revenue more difficult for broadcasters (why should an advertiser pay for broadcast TV spots if more and more people can just skip the adds?).

So after some thought, it turns out that the point I wanted to make, is still valid:  Broadcasters should really stop doing things to drive away the viewers they still have!  While TV viewership is maintaining, or even increasing, the share that any one network has is being reduced by an increasing amount of choice on TV and elsewhere.

The biggest gripe I have is the mucking about with volume levels.  It has long been a tactic to attract viewers attention to commercials by jacking up the volume as the commercials start.  I guess there must be some empirical evidence to back up the value of this tactic.  The problem is, this is really annoying!

This was further compounded by a seemingly new tactic that I have noticed on CNN: dropping the volume to almost inaudible levels after the commercial break, then slowly ramping up the volume to normal levels.  This one I don’t understand at all?!  I regularly have to up the volume after the commercial break just to hear what people are saying, then drop it again as the volume jumps back up.  It seems that CNN is desiring audience participation with their volume knob!

When your customers have an increasing amount of choice, you want to make your product more attractive to keep them wanting your product.

For me, these audio shenanigans make it a really attractive option to get rid of broadcast TV in favour of something like the Apple TV, which doesn’t muck about with my sound, doesn’t push commercials on me, and I get to choose the content I want.  If only they could get more content providers to provide their content!!

Broadcasters might want to think of ways to make their offer MORE attractive, instead of less!

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