TV Has a Lot to Worry About, or Does It?

I recently read that three quarters of all TV viewers are multitasking in front of the glowing box. Some are texting, some are on the web and some are actually TALKING on the phone. How quaint.

Much has been made of this recent behavioral development in media chatter. TV is dying some say.  But I say different. This past Super Bowl I watched the game in a bar with a few close friends. But I also watched the game with a few dozen friends on my iPhone. Through Facebook status updates or Twitter posts I was getting my friends’ reactions in real time.

And this is not just for huge events like the Super Bowl. Living in New York I have friends who are theater people: actors, singers, etc. From them I learned about the show Glee. I may not watch Glee, but I am certainly aware of it even if musicals are not my thing. According to a recent Harris poll 43% of online adults in the US have posted something online about a TV show. That’s good buzz.

So this multitasking is actually helping to spread the word about TV content. In a market with hundreds of channels word of mouth can be critical to building an audience. I know word of mouth got me to watch Always Sunny in Philadelphia which is now one of my “can’t miss” shows even if I do watch them on and not in real time, because I don’t own a proper TV and have no cable subscription.

Which segues nicely to the danger for the future of TV – the rise of viewing TV online. Or not as the case may be.

I was a casual viewer of the ABC show “V”. I used to watch episodes on ABC’s web site but for some reason they removed them. And now I’m no longer a watcher of “V”. See how easy it is to lose me? Conversely, I found out recently that every episode of every season of South Park is on Comedy Central’s web site and while I was a fan of the show I never had cable so I didn’t get to see many episodes. Well, now my eyeballs are getting fully monetized because I’m slowly going through all 14 seasons episode by episode.

Why would ABC shun one new distribution channel popular with the youthful demographic that marketers crave in favor of the old distribution channel popular with geriatric fans of Matlock and Murder She Wrote? I’m sure some misguided executive decided that the revenue from ads on the website weren’t sufficient and they’re cannibalizing eyeballs that would normally watch at 9pm on whatever day V airs. Except they’re not. If I really, really, really liked V maybe, just maybe, I’d put a reminder in my video enabled mobile device to sit on the couch for an hour at the appointed time and watch 45 minutes of show and 15 minutes of ads. But I don’t really, really, really like V. I kind of like V. I’m in like with liking V. So, for me, if I can’t get to it quickly, easily and when I have time – you lose me, my eyeballs and my purchasing power entirely.

Now what if V were made into a video podcast? Well, now I’m a little less “meh” about those alien hotties from the crab nebula. I could watch on my laptop at home or my phone on the way to work. While the numbers may not be there to charge advertisers as much as you would TV, some eyeballs are better than no eyeballs. Plus, you have the advantages of sharing. With the click of a button I could tell my 200 Facebook friends or my 500 twitter followers about V.

The medium is the message. Did you get the message? Medium well done.