May TV Die Because of Digital?

We often hear about the disappearance of TV because of the digital competition. But we see that TV is still going strong. That’s because digital doesn’t succeed to disrupt correctly TV’s businesses, or because TV’s complete enought adjustments to be digital compatible? Both answers are somewhat right.


TV vs Internet source: Fiestoforo

TV vs The Internet source: Fiestoforo

The idea of making this article came to me a few days ago while watching a French YouTuber saying that TV was over during a TV report (about the Video City conference in Paris) — a little bit ironic, isn’t it? So I decided to research about the fact that TV didn’t fall like some people predicted it and why its disappearance is probably not for tomorrow.

• Money Money Money!
In business,  it’s always been about money, and TV always earns lots of money thanks to ads and subscriptions. Online medias try not to disappear because on the Internet, the winner takes it all — and some big websites, who weren’t media at the begining, became new medias. We can think of Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube for actuality, which isn’t their core business, but who became content aggregators. More and more people use social networks to access news and contents. The last Reuteurs Institute for the study of journalism reported it in June.
Mickael Wolff, an American Journalist, thinks that TV is still the master of medias rather than digital medias, because they don’t find how to earn money and just make a race for audience and a little ads profit — they often spend money to get those clicks. Websites are often weak because they don’t have determined business plans.
For example, you can see that YouTube, who earns more than 1 billion of visitor each month, doesn’t succed to make money. It’s the same story for Twitter who announced in October a 8% lay-off of employees (espacially ingenieers) ,it’s around 330 people who are going to be fired.

• The Adaptation of TV
TV is not dead because of a successful digital shift adaptation. TV quickly learned to use every aspect of the web (the social aspect with social networks and the interaction with the audience). TV channels saw all the opportunities of being present on the digital world to create a community around them.
They create apps for multi-screen experiences. They follow trends of uptake-making websites who permit to see replays of broadcasts, and also offer VOD services for people who want to decide when they watch it. TV changed its linear programs to choices and selections.
The fact is that TV doesn’t loose a huge audience, the time of view per day decrease of few minute each year, but TV can even round up millions of people more than any digital company on a similar content.

• Giants didn’t disrupt the market yet
Two giants of the Web tried to conquer TV like Apple TV and Google, but it doesn’t work well even if Apple just launched the new Apple TV with Siri. Although these two powerful companies tried, we can say that today, it’s still a fail. We can say that TV is more present on the Web that the opposite

• Contents
Series and TV shows trended a lot these past few years, and TV channels win so much money that even illegal dowloads don’t matter too much. Digital also tries to enter this market with Netflix, for example, who produces and buys series and who is only available on the web. This service provides an access to a bank of movies and series with a monthly subscription. Amazon tries to do the same by producing series but big TV groups did the same, like Canalplay (Canal+) in France. Actually, those services are really similar to pay TV and providers sell and buy series amongst themselves. YouTubers are also providers of contents, but few make their own living with their videos.

• Trust and quality of news
Web medias are often more trusted if they are known for a long time. So, on the net, we can see that people who want to be informed go to traditional medias they know. On the web, pureplayers appeared in France — for instance Mediapart, the Huffington Post, Atlantico, Rue 89 for news. Some of them are free with ads, others have a subscription.
The fact is that those pureplayers are not numerous and, to survive on the web, some decided to do differently. Online medias are often off the wall, humoristic, ironic and slight delivering little news and buzz, like Buzzfeed and Melty in France. Even if Melty has millions of visitors each month and just raises €10.5 millions founds, the French web media for youngs and teenagers didn’t win money for ten years. For the same audience, TV won a lot of money everyday and provided videos who aren’t very used by online medias.
The problem is that people think that on the web everything is free and there are not able to pay for something they can’t really establish the value.

• Ads War
On the net, the ads war has begun. Users are pretty annoyed by ads and targeted ads are more and more frowned upon and feel like intrusive. TV ads are more accepted because people are used to see them and they always are more impacting and reassuring for the consumer. TV ads are more expensive than web ads. On the net, adblockers are growing in popularity and people use them more often. The site of Bild a German newspaper doesn’t allow people who have an adblocker to go on their website since last month, and they oblige to choose between a subscription or ads — their monetizable readers grow up significantly.

• Demography
TV is also the referent screen for a lot of people. TV is not dead yet because of people aged 45+ prefer TV (according to the Reuters Institute for the study of journalism 2015 report). We know that population is aging and they’re not digital native so they prefer TV, but things can change in the futur because TV is maybe the number 1 media in aging countries but young countries and young people are already using online media.

Main source of news by age from Reuters 2015 reports

Main source of news by age from Reuters 2015 reports

• Things change…
Things are changing. Now the news are available on social networks without the obligation to go on the website, like Notify and instant articles on Facebook, discover on Snapchat, or Apple’s News — big Americans channels belong to those projects. It’s a way for traditional TV channels to enlarge their audience to younger people for example. Google tried targeted ads on TV and is currently testing it in Kansas City with the Google fiber service. Apple just hired journalists this year for Apple’s News.

Conclusion: TV ‘s not dead yet but it had to perform on digitals moves, and change the way of thinking about future audiences, and providing what they’ll look for. New generations don’t have the same habits, and TV has to deal with it.


photo Mehdi BougaultMehdi Bougault

E-business student in Master 2, University of Strasbourg, I’ve studied management, and am passionate about marketing and strategy in the digital world.



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