TV is dying a slow and painful death… not unlike a TV death! (haha)
I’m not saying that TV will disappear completely, nor will it vanish any time soon (a belief supported by an optimistic report from Forrester) but TV viewership is declining and will continue to decline because it is being replaced by other forms of video entertainment. Basically, you can watch a bunch of stuff online (free on YouTube, especially if you’re not too picky, or paid through a service like Netflix, or direct from networks who post full episodes on their sites).
Heck, the only reason I still watch TV and subscribe to cable is because some of the stuff I watch isn’t available on the web (specifically NASCAR — I love NASCAR) and I own a big TV. For all other entertainment, it can be watched on a laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
The conversation is usually centered around the following benefits:
- The entertainment is on-demand instead of when it is broadcast
- Viewers aren’t stuck to whatever channels their cable-provider gives them
- You end up paying very little or nothing at all, compared to cable or satellite
- Shows can be watched without commercials (or with commercials fast-forwarded) to reduce or eliminate sales pitches
But I think there’s something else missing from the conversation when we talk about how online video is replacing television as a medium of entertainment. I think there is an overlooked benefit that people love but maybe don’t realize they love.
Television shows are half an hour or an hour long. All of them. Even shows that are longer are chopped into two-parters.
But I don’t always have thirty or sixty minutes to watch a show. Even if I fast forward through the commercials in my PVR, I don’t always have 25 minutes or 50 minutes to watch a show. Sometimes, I have 5 or 10 minutes and I want to be entertained.
THAT is the overlooked value of online video content. It’s sometimes provided in smaller, digestible pieces, allowing you to watch what you want, when you want… for as long as you have.
I’m not just talking about chopping up an hour long show into 10-minute segments from one commercial break to another (which is how I watched the show The $treet on Youtube). I mean that video producers are starting to produce good content in shorter segments. They’re breaking away from the half-hour and hour-long formats of television and providing viewers with whatever length of show that fits their needs. 20 minutes? 15 minutes? 10 minutes? 5 minutes? 2 minutes? Whatever time you have, there’s something on YouTube to entertain you.
Here’s an example of a great video that is 4 minutes and 39 seconds long. Short, digestible, yet entertaining. (And very well produced, to boot).
There are tons of these kinds of things on YouTube — short videos of varying length for every taste and interest and genre preference. You can get whatever you want to fill the time you have.
I think this is the secret killer of television. Yes, there is the convenience factor of watching something any time on any device whenever you want. Those are relevant arguments. But the one we’re overlooking is length of content — we’ve broken away from the 12 and the 6 on the clockface.