With apologies to Mark Twain, the announcement concerning the death of television has been greatly exaggerated. Of course you can’t ignore the fact that the TV audience has become increasingly fragmented, and as a result the share of the pie any one network command is smaller. Ad revenues, historically disproportionately dependent on auto advertising, have taken a significant hit over the past few years. But you also can’t ignore that primetime television is still reaching huge numbers of viewers. TV, both cable and broadcast has also been undergoing a creative renaissance that can’t really be ignored. Yes we still have a “vast wasteland” of ridiculously innocuous programming and dunned down reality shows. But we also have witnessed brilliantly crafted shows like Mad Men, Treme, The Wire, Lost, CSI, True Blood – to name a few of the great shows that have helped set the standard for great drama. Also shows like Real Time with Bill Maher, The Daily Show with John Stewart, The Colbert Report and South Park have provided us with intelligent and insightful social satire. And let’s not forget the powerful insight and analysis that PBS shows such as Frontline and The American Experience continue to provide.
I recognize that the earth is shifting under the major broadcast and cable networks. DVR’s, You Tube and hundreds of other digital platforms provide often compelling alternatives to appointment television. However, great content will always find a way into our entertainment diet and at the moment cable and broadcast television are still providing some best options in the world of video entertainment. Nothing beat live sports to tap into the passion of a collective audience. Live sports and great video content are expensive to produce and revenues will have to keep pace with the cost of production to sustain the quality of programming we are currently enjoying from the cable and broadcast networks. At the moment, when it comes to high quality video content, the big networks are delivering the best entertainment value.
No question advertisers need to have a great digital strategy to drive conversion and acquire new customers. However, a great digital strategy does not preclude making effective use old fashioned traditional TV advertising. Have you seen Google’s TV spots?