Fragmentation has plagued the television industry since last century’s cable boom. Where once the options for TV viewership were limited to programming on the big three broadcast networks, the rise of cable and, more recently, “TV Everywhere” has now created immense choice for the television consumer, something the industry has dubbed “Peak TV.”
Between linear broadcast networks, linear cable, on-demand services, and over the top (OTT) streaming networks, there have never been more options for the TV viewer than ever. The problem, however, is that viewers become paralyzed by too many choices.
The Tipping Point
So, we’ve reached Peak TV. In essence, the TV industry now faces a double-edged sword. On the one hand, television is of excellent quality and full of creative content easily accessible through a multitude of outlets. But the abandonment of TV programming has begun to pick up momentum, as well. If the industry isn’t careful, the newfound phenomenon of “TV Dumping” has the potential to snowball out of control.
The TV Dumping Phenomenon
MediaPost reports that a recent survey of television viewers conducted by TiVo showed nearly 37 percent of Pay TV and OTT subscribers have abandoned shows because they were not accessible enough. Most frequently, these are the shows that are only available on one outlet, whether that’s linear TV, a video on demand (VOD) subscription, or an OTT streaming aggregator. If a show is only available through one of these, the viewer is far less likely to seek it out, even if he or she does feel a pull toward the program. There’s simply too much good content out there to make it worthwhile to the consumer to spend the time searching for one particular show.
TiVo’s study shows that viewers spend about four hours a day streaming video content. On top of that time, viewers will spend an additional 19 minutes each day searching for content. If you think about it, that’s only about five minutes per hour of viewing, which doesn’t leave a lot of time for discovering new programs. Nearly half (47 percent) of survey respondents felt that if they paid for a content streaming or television service, finding what they want to watch should be an easier process.
Keys to Success
The TV environment has never been better for writers, producers, and others involved in creating content, but in order for programs to be successful with viewers in this age of TV Everywhere, shows need to be easily discoverable. TiVo’s study shows that 40 percent of viewers will turn off the television if they can’t find something to watch. That’s why streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu have features like recommended programs, which make it much easier to discover new and existing programming. Those algorithms are so valued that more than half (53 percent) of millennial respondents to the TiVo study have come not only to use the feature, but expect it.
All of that just goes to show that the era of peak TV has shifted the landscape of television viewing. As the TiVo survey has outlined, cord-cutting and cord-shaving continue to be pervasive, especially among millennials. Now that TV dumping has also become a reality, the industry would do well to make the changes consumers are looking for.