Published on Friday, 27 October 2017 07:17
“You still watch TV? Haven’t you heard about Netflix?”
You may have heard someone telling you off as they give you the weirdest look if you happen to be among the millennial generation who still watches visual media on what our grandparents once called the idiot box.
Because let’s face it, who needs television when the entire world is at the mercy of the internet, so much so, that everyone’s lives revolves around it and no one wants to devote themselves to watching TV physically anymore even in their leisure time – especially the young viewers.
Business Insider citing a research by Nielsen US in 2015, said, the number of people using TV in the coveted 18 to 49 demographic was down 8% against the previous year, while viewing by millennial consumers (18 to 24 year olds) went down 20% in the same year.
In the UK Ofcom reports, with on-demand services becoming popular by the day, in 2010, TV viewership dropped by over a quarter among 16-24 year olds and children, and by 19% for those between 25-34 year olds and those between 35 and 44 year olds had also reduced by 17% in the last five years.
Zooming in Malaysia, a recent survey by Kantar TNS Malaysia and Google Malaysia, interestingly found Malaysians prefer watching online content daily on their mobile devices over normal broadcast TV. In fact, the average YouTube watch time of Malaysians lasts for 80 minutes, double the global average watch time of 40 minutes.
While this may seem like the start of the death of traditional broadcast media, TV still remains relevant for the older viewers, under 64 years of age. And according to the same survey, these TV viewers watch 2.2 hours of content daily, higher than online media’s average watch time at 1.8 hours.
This begs the question: As the younger viewers grow older and the older generation dies, will terrestrial TV become completely irrelevant then in this digital age?
Time For TV Stations To Adapt To The Digital Revolution
Malaysian Digest reached out to Kantar TNS, one of the world’s leading data, insight and consultancy companies which is no stranger to market research related to the media consumption of Malaysians, to delve deeper into their statistics.
“From our latest Connected Life findings where we studied 70,000 consumers across 56 countries on their digital behaviours, 83% of Malaysians are watching digital videos on a daily basis, which is higher than the global average of 68%,” its marketing manager Christin Wong explained.
The company also found that there has been an annual increase of free and paid online content consumption among Malaysians, which has reduced the number of TV viewers in the country.
And while the global average TV viewers is at 65% of the population, only 56% of Malaysians watch TV daily through a traditional television set.
“With improved internet connectivity, affordability and the growing number of paid and free on-demand and streaming sites that offer easy access and convenience, it is not surprising that Malaysians are spending roughly 7.2 hours watching online content daily,” she revealed.
However despite these statistics, she did not deny that TV still remains relevant for certain consumer segments in Malaysia because “there is still a significant proportion of rural Malaysians who rely on traditional TV broadcasting as source of information, entertainment and news.”
Nevertheless, in adapting to the digital revolution, she noted that terrestrial television companies have slowly moved to creating their own versions of on-demand services to complement their standard broadcasts.
“They are already moving in the right direction by evolving their offerings to include the emergence of digital media, offering seamless cross-platform access to their content, such as Tonton TV by Media Prima.
“This gives consumers the control and convenience they seek,” she explained, saying the services available are easily accessed by multiple devices, like the smartphone, tablet or computer.
Though to further make themselves relevant, she pointed out that terrestrial TV stations must also provide multiple formats of their broadcasts to allow viewers to access content via such mobile devices.
In addition, “From a content perspective, different formats need to be adapted to the different platforms or mediums, allowing optimal viewing experience on different screen sizes.
“They should leverage on the benefit of digital platforms, by thinking about interactivity with the viewers via commenting, live interaction with the stars of the show or voting at the ending of the show,” she suggested.
Are TV Stations Losing Their Advertising Relevance?
When Netflix arrived in the beginning of 2016, The Star reported that Malaysian satellite television provider Astro Malaysia Holdings Berhad’s shares had come under pressure and its share price fell into a record low since October 2015.
In August, The Malaysian Reserve reported Media Prima Bhd, one of Malaysia’s largest media companies reported losses for the second quarter of 2017, as traditional revenue from commercials continue to plummet with a net loss of RM132.9 million.
So, are marketers really running away from advertising on terrestrial TV stations?
Cocombee Studio, a Kuala Lumpur-based media company that creates professional digital advertisements for its clients, declared to us that advertising on TV is no longer the prime method for businesses to promote their products.
“With the advent of social media and mobile devices, consumers are spending less time watching TV,” its spokesman told Malaysian Digest.
The studio claims that companies are struggling to grapple with the challenges of the digital age and internet services are challenging the grip of TV and media industries, forcing them to adapt to the rapid rise of digital media.
“Companies soon realise they can save a lot of money by focusing their marketing campaign on internet-based media instead of terrestrial TV, because advertising on TV is very expensive,” the spokesperson added.
While Nur Leila Khalid, the programme director of advertising for Taylor’s University does not deny the explosive growth of advertising on the internet and its dominance, she is of the opinion that marketers still benefit from advertising on terrestrial TV stations.
“True, terrestrial TV stations are losing their viewership. However, we still have to look at the context of the urban and suburban areas.
“In some suburban areas, the internet connectivity is not as strong as that of the urban areas, and this is where advertising on traditional broadcast is still relevant,” she said.
To keep up with the changing times, Nur Leila emphasised that agencies must know the demographics and their target audience as well before opting which form of media is most suitable to market their products.
She believes the older generation have the tendency to watch traditional broadcast, while the tech-savvy millennials and the younger generation spend more time watching digital media.
“When I ask my students what kind of media they use, it’s very rare for them to say they watch TV. They do watch a lot of videos and commercials on the internet.
“Companies realise this, and if they want to target the younger age groups, they would prioritise advertising in the digital space first before moving on to marketing on terrestrial TV stations,” she opined.
As advertising steadily grows online, proven by the evident increase of commercials seen on YouTube, Nur Leila shared that students in her programme are also learning more from watching the commercials they see on the video-sharing website instead of the TV.
Despite the fact that marketers are slowly moving towards digital media, Nur Leila chooses not to undermine traditional broadcast, and deems it as an “important media”.
“Even if paid streaming services such as Netflix are on the rise, it does not mean companies can post commercials there, as the services are ad-free, making it one of the reasons why people are willing to pay for them, because they do not want to see commercials.
“While those who do not pay for streaming services are still most likely to watch content from both terrestrial TV stations and the internet for free,” she stated.
In fact, a new survey by Advertiser Perception last August, finds commercials on TV have more impact than commercials in other media. “40% of the marketer and media agency execs polled said TV ads have the most impact, compared to 23% who picked digital video ads,” Broadcasting Cable reports.
This proves the bigger budget spent on advertising on traditional broadcast is worth it, as it still has the biggest impact on viewers.
Will TV Still Be Relevant In Future? Viewers Weigh In
Many media consumers are making the jump to on-demand streaming services, after seeing how they can dictate the sort of content they want to watch, instead of being regulated by terrestrial TV stations.
For Wai Ong, he is optimistic for the future of on-demand services.
“Looking at the preferences of the current and younger generation, the traditional TV format just isn’t as convenient as on-demand streaming, especially when their time is so constrained,” he opined.
However, he thinks terrestrial TV stations will always have its place especially among the older generation, and will continue to exist as long as they are still alive.
“Unless the government continues its support for traditional broadcasting, it will be very hard for terrestrial TV stations to stay relevant,” he added.
Accessibility is also a key factor in the appeal of on-demand services and that easily beats traditional broadcast, shared urbanite, Izzani Ismail.
“People tend to go for things that they don’t have to struggle too much with. So, if you live in an area with decent connectivity and if on-demand services are affordable for you, you will definitely be using it as there are a lot of advantages,” Izzani highlights.
He also appreciates the features specific to streaming services, such as being able to watch movies without any commercials in between and having content suggestions tailored to his liking.
And in his opinion, traditional broadcast now not only has to compete against on-demand services, but against social media as well.
“A lot of my older relatives now get their news from information shares on WhatsApp and Facebook,” he told Malaysian Digest.
However, just like Wai, he too, does not think television will be completely gone, as he made a comparison to the postal services which still exist despite the invention of telephones and text messaging.
As for the in-house content created by the broadcasting companies, Brian, a millennial who has unsubscribed from cable TV, admits that some viewers are losing their interest towards such content, subsequently impacting terrestrial TV stations to lose their viewership.
“The content created by local TV stations have to abide by strict quality control, with ratings from the government. It is for the consumption of the general public, it is very safe and repetitive,” was his two cents.
“On the internet, we have media such as YouTube and we can find alternative news sources that are not covered by mainstream TV. Even the movies and series are not required to comply with the government’s rulebook.
“You can even create your own content and upload it to video sharing websites, and it can be seen by millions of people, all without the help of broadcast television,” he detailed.
While there are many predictions for the future of TV, and with companies like Netflix working hard on personalisation technology thriving over traditional TV formats, even promising live sports in the future (one of the reasons some have found it unappealing and choose to stick with traditional TV), all we can do as viewers is stay tuned to find out what’s next.
— Malaysian Digest