Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Lessons for Radio from the new TV World
The recent news of the downturn in viewers for TV in this Spring's sweeps may represent a trend that could be in Radio's listener ship soon (if it already hasn't arrived). Nielsen data shows a loss of 2.5 million viewers for TV this Spring when compared to a year ago. There are a number of excuses from the earlier move to Daylight Savings Time, DVRs, on-line viewing, and so many viewing options that it might be hard for any person (or rating service) to keep track of. You can read the AP story here.
Some of the issues here are somewhat tied to the Nielsen policies struggling to work with all the new options to view a show. How do they track DVR, on-demand, video pod casts and watching on the computer? Not all of this happens in front of the magic Nielsen box next to the TV.
TV has also been pretty active in promoting all the options for viewing a show. Look at the shows that have younger (18-49) followings like Lost or 24. They actively promote the podcasts and on-line viewing and even offer 'extras' if you tune in there. They know the future of their shows brand lies in being on as many media options as possible. But, we may be in a world where no one ratings service can track all the options?
Some might also see all the new media options as the core cause of lower viewership and force us to tune in Monday at 9 if we want to see 24. That would be a mistake. Limiting the options will only weaken the show/brand over the long haul. Taking away the flexibility here is almost like taking away the viewers freedom - they will rebel. Other shows could jump in and take full advantage of the options and win the time slot pushing you down anyway.
We see the same issues showing up in Radio. No one gets credit for Podcasts and many streams are not counted due to the AFTRA commercials being cut out. How will we get credit for the future of HD radio in non PPM markets, listening on Cell Phones (if we are able to go there) or delayed DVR style options that will soon be in radios?
Perhaps we need to have a 'brand rating' system where all sources are taken into consideration. When they count up the revenues from a movie everything comes into play - theatres, DVDs, on-line downloads, subscription TV channels, selling the movie to TV networks and even airline viewing revenue all shows up.
The news here also shows us the new reality ahead for our business. We will be talking to fewer listeners, but we will likely still reach more than most other options. Don't expect the networks here to lose much because of the lower viewer ship this spring. Even if they have to rebate some dollars because they didn't achieve promised levels to some advertisers they will find a way to adjust their rates and advertisers will pay. TV reaches too many people and is still to powerful of a media. Radio has the SAME advantages.