Opinion

Cutting the cord on free to air dross in favour of online viewing

Paul Cotton hasn’t plugged in his TV aerial in three years. This is a topic content makers and advertisers need to address for their continued
survival, he says.

At first it was a matter of inconvenience. I simply didn’t have the right cable and going out to buy one was easy to forget. Looking back, that was the first indication something had changed. Eventually someone got me a cable but it was too short. I could have moved the TV but I didn’t.

After musing about why I didn’t bother, I came to the conclusion that when it comes to TV, there is nothing I want to watch. The interesting is outnumbered by the dross and I simply don’t care enough. And I am not alone. Nielsen data indicates viewing video online has recently edged above the numbers watching TV. This change has been in the works for years and the behaviour is starting to surface outside early adopters. Where once we were chained to channels and schedules, now we are free.

Advertisers are coming to the realisation TV ads are expensive and increasingly less effective, not to mention a depressing trust rating of 24 per cent, again, according to Nielsen. However, content is still being consumed and at ever-increasing rates. The time to shift models is nigh and while no-one is entirely sure what the new model will be, old ways of thinking won’t help much.

Sites like Curvio that show viewers where to get the ring Blair was wearing in episode 24, season five of Gossip Girl are giving us ideas. So are partnerships like the one between the MTV Awards and Shazam where on-air messaging prompted viewers to use Shazam to find out more about, and buy, tracks as they played on-screen.

There are still ways to get your message out and your product sold. But now it’s about seamless experiences, consumer opt-in, and extra choice. I’m not the first person to completely unplug from the networks and I won’t be the last. The question is, when will you and what are networks and advertisers going to do about it?

Paul Cotton is a social media strategist at Salmat Digital. Find him on Twitter as @tali3sin.

This feature first appeared in the July edition of Encore magazine. To download it for free from the App Store, click here.

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