TV Viewing Up – Top Media Trends in 2010

Two reports out today offer hope for our business in 2010. They also portend continued change and the clear message that we must manage that change if we are to survive as broadcasters.  Add your thoughts.

Even though Americans are pushing domestic boxoffice revenue to new highs, an increasing number of them are indicating they’d rather save money and watch television.
According to Deloitte’s fourth annual “State of the Media Democracy” report, due out today, 34 percent of Americans cite TV as their favorite medium, up from 27 percent last year. Second through fourth, respectively, were Internet, music and books, all of which are perceived by the average consumer as being less expensive than a night out at the movies.  Rest of this article

This is truly a golden age of anytime, anywhere media. And rather than Americans replacing TV with the Internet or a mobile device, they are just consuming more—often simultaneously. Despite the availability of video content on the Internet, TV viewing is up by about 20% over the last decade, and the average American watches 141 hours of programming each month. Online video consumption stands at more than three hours a month—up from virtually nothing ten years ago. Mobile viewing is growing, too, as devices and connectivity become more widespread. Smartphone usage is climbing and text messaging is through the roof. On average, teens use more than 3,500 text messages a month and adults about 500.

Top Cross Media Trends in 2010:

  1. Convergence is in demand. As American consumers continue to outfit their “home bunkers,” they will invest in the next generation of TV’s that are Internet enabled giving universal access to content across screens combined with the devices in which they’ve already invested, such as HDTVs, DVRs and “over-the-top” systems. And 4G networks make it an all-Internet world.
  2. Second and third screen initiatives grow. More content originally for the TV will be accessed on the Web, long-form video content for mobile phones will expand and efforts to make over-the-top systems will become more compelling for accessing Web content.
  3. Audience fragmentation continues. The increasing variety and sophistication of media options will make it a challenge to keep viewers engaged and receptive. Evolutions to the media universe will need to follow the new laws of increasing portability and increasing content.
  4. New and varied approaches to content are created. New, low-cost models are key (e.g., Jay Leno’s nightly 10 p.m. program on NBC). Low-performing networks will go extinct and free on demand online offerings will need reconsideration.
  5. Multiple distribution opportunities are formed. Deals—including the Comcast/NBC deal—will create new outlets for programming, while studios replace the traditional executive brand builders responsible for a number of distribution channels.

Live, Local mobile DTV- Bring on Live News & Weather

Though most of the solutions available to broadcasters today are either too expensive, or bandwidth hogs, the appetite for Live News and Weather appears high among those already using mobile devices.

According to a new Magid Media Labs study commissioned by the Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC), mobile consumers in the U.S. respond enthusiastically to the notion of watching live, local mobile DTV.

When asked what live video they want to see, nearly nine out of ten survey respondents say they are interested in watching live news and weather programming while on the go.
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Will local broadcasters capitalize on the greatest opportunity in 40 years to increase their market share?

Digital subchannels offer the possibility of niche community programming
Digital subchannels offer the possibility of niche community programming

by Mark Friedrich President at Michigan Free TV Inc.

The switch to digital broadcasting and the sagging economy, may present local broadcasters their greatest opportunity in 40 years to increase market share. Digital broadcasting has effectively tripled the amount of programming content that they can provide, during a time when consumers are looking for ways to save every penny. The only question is, will they capitalize on it?

To be effective, a new mind-set and spirit of coopitition (cooperative-competition) among local broadcasters will be required. Instead of competing head-to-head for all viewers, they will have to work together to provide a variety of programming choices that will diminish the value of subscription offerings. Sure local broadcast news departments will still compete against each other, the networks will still vie for primetime viewers and they will have to be careful not to diminish or compete directly with their own primary offerings. This still leaves a lot of room to entice viewers away from “pay” TV to “free” TV. It most likely will require cooperation from the local broadcasters affiliated networks to provide what is currently “subscription only” content on a re-run or time shifted basis. Some broadcasters are already airing some pre-packaged content like RTN and This, which is better than nothing, but I don’t think that this type of programming alone will be enough for people to give up their subscriptions. The biggest reasons for maintaining subscription services, is the availability of sports, conservative news and documentary programming. All of which are readily available through affiliated networks and independent sources.

Remember, Local broadcasters have two distinct advantages that subscription services never will. They are free, and can target their content to their local demographics. You don’t have to provide content that necessarily beats that of subscription television, you just need to provide a wide enough variety of targeted content to make the additional offerings of subscription services, not worth their cost. Every household that switches from pay service to free broadcast service eliminates up to 200 channels of competition for those viewers, increasing the value of broadcast advertising time.

Local broadcasters also need to start cross promoting their own sub-channels and reminding viewers that what they are watching is available in digital clarity without a monthly subscription.

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Local News in High Definition; Recession Slowing Growth

I just realized that it has been a while since we last updated the progress of Local News in High Definition.  We are now up to  155 Stations in 73 markets where some, if not all, of the broadcast is in HiDef.  The next step for many is to convert to HD ENG operations in the field. Many are upconverting or at least doing field acquisition in 16:9.  Here is a complete list from TVB.

Local television stations broadcasting news in High Definition - Feb 2010
These stations (number is market size) have launched local news in high definition. The next step for many is to convert to HD ENG operations in the field.

At A TV Screen Near You: Facebook And Twitter by Mike Bloxham

Reposted from MEDIAPOST.COM Mike Bloxham is director of insight and research at the Center for Media Design, Ball State University. (mbloxham@bsu.edu)

How will Facebook & Twitter will manifest themselves on TV post-digital transition?
How will Facebook & Twitter will manifest themselves on TV post-digital transition?

A number of people outside the media industries have told me recently of the noticeable increase in the number of old friends from high school or college who have connected with them on Facebook and the like in recent times.

These people are typically in the 40+ age group and — for the most part — are pleased to be enjoying the renewed contact with old acquaintances, even though many simultaneously express surprise at what they perceive to be a relatively sudden surge in new Friend requests.

“Where have these people come from?” “Why are they contacting me now?” and “Are they new to Facebook?” — all these questions are typically part of the conversation.

A smaller number of people have also said similar things about Twitter. So what’s going on here? Are more of us old folks getting actively engaged in the social networking thing? There’s no doubt that the Facebook user base is expanding rapidly — and apparently the fastest growth is occurring among those who are over 30.

Recently released stats from complete.com (stats based solely on U.S., browser-based use of the sites) show huge levels of use for Facebook in January, with around 68.5 million unique visitors delivering almost 1.2 billion unique visits (for the first time I believe, ranking the site above Myspace by 10 million unique visitors in the month).

In a distant third comes Twitter, with just shy of 6 million unique visitors and just over 54 million unique visits. Complete acknowledge that since its stats don’t take into account use of widgets and third-party apps to access the sites, the likes of Twitter will be somewhat under-reported in terms of total use.
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