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Saturday, April 9, 2022

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Broadcast Video and Audio: old ways and new ways

It seems like almost all of the current issues we have nowadays come down to two reasons: money and technology. From its creation to its evolution, technology/the internet has changed everything around us. In journalism, it started with the printed newspaper’s decay and it’s walking towards a broadcast decay in the future as well. 

Credit: Pixabay

As mentioned in the Reuters Institute’s report “What Is Happening to Television News?”, TV viewing has declined by 3 to 4% per year on average since 2012, which if compounded over ten years will result in an overall decline in viewing of 25 to 30%.

The special report “Fading ratings” published by Variety in January 2022 shows that just 12 out of 124 measured networks saw an increase in average primetime audience in 2021 when compared with 2016. It means that 90% of networks experienced a decline ranging from two thousand to several million viewings. 

Variety’s report also reveals that broadcast networks have seen “tremendous primetime audience declines” having CBS as an example that has shed 3.2 million viewers since 2016. It is important to note that despite the decline, CBS still had about 5.6 million primetime viewers in 2021, which is an expressive reach, enough to lead the TV industry. However, the drop in those numbers is not a good sign in the long term. 

The audience has shrunk with the growth of new streaming platforms and video-on-demand providers, like YouTube, Facebook, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and social media. Studies have shown that the majority of TV viewers now are 60+ years old, while the young generation most likely has digital media as news sources.

“There are thus no reasons to believe that a generation that has grown up with and enjoys digital, on-demand, social, and mobile video viewing across a range of connected devices will come to prefer live, linear, scheduled programming tied to a single device just because they grow older,” affirm Nielsen and Sambrook in the Reuters’ report.

Broadcast survival depends on how much and how quickly we can adapt to the changes and recalculate routes. The silver lightning is that technology can also be a solution.

What we can infer from this digital and mobile age is that is affecting the news cycle, from gathering to production and consumption. To reach younger generations, TV providers need to invest in innovation and experimentation in both formats, storytelling methods, length, and distribution strategies to remain relevant. It has to be short, visual, dynamic, and timely. 

In my opinion, the biggest challenges in terms of content are adding value to stories that have already been shared on several websites and social media, and reporting complicated stories in real-time. But it is one of the skills a journalist needs now and will need even more in the future.

I agree with Gavin Bride when he says in Variety’s article “The future of TV news won’t be on TV” that the solution for broadcast is “to knock down the walls and distribute everywhere free and ad-supported: FAST services (and not exclusively on one platform), live streaming and feeds on social media. The new consumers expect content to follow them, not the other way around.” 

I couldn't find a current estimate of the total sum made on ads, but in 2019 the CEO of Xumo, Colin Petrie-Norris, said that "on just ad-supported content with a low-end load of 15 to 17 ads per hour on average, as a channel, you can be earning between 15 cents to 80 cents an hour per viewer." 

Considering that these channels have millions of users, it's not a bad deal. Variety's 2021 report showed that Roku had 55.1 million active accounts, Xumo had over 24 million, Peacock had 20 million, and Pluto TV had 52.3 million global monthly average users.

And it keeps growing. According to data from Kantar, 18% of U.S. households now use at least one free ad-supported TV service as of the fourth quarter of 2021, more than doubled since 2020. YouTube announced it will stream free ad-supported TV shows for the first time to compete with the growing number of FASTs on the market. It is also an opportunity to reach consumers that can't afford cable TV. Another reason is that it can boost distribution and use this visibility to invite people to subscribe to other exclusive content the providers may produce.

In conclusion, journalists and news outlets, in general, must use social networks and all digital platforms available to reach the audience and get closer to them. More than distributing content, they can make this new generation more involved and engaged to express their opinions and suggest topics.


Credit: Pixabay

*This article was submitted as a memo assignment for the course "Current Issues of Journalism" at the University of Illinois.

About Manu Ferreira

Hi, my name is Manu Ferreira. I am multimedia producer. I hold a bachelor's degree in Social Communication - Radio, TV, and Internet, and a Master's degree in Journalism. Here, I want to share my ideas and some of the work I've done in my career.


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