The Future of TV: Audience Lift and Audience Shift

By Joan FitzGerald

Originally posted on comScore’s Blog

The fact that viewing habits are driving TV to a multi-platform future is not anything new. However, when industry-leaders who remain innovative amid all of this change get together to talk about this future, I make a point to listen to their predictions. At the comScore Industry Summit earlier this month, we had a session dedicated to the Future of TV where Jane Clarke, CEO and Managing Director of CIMM, moderated the conversation between several dynamic leaders of the TV industry.

Consumer Behavior is Impacting Content Strategies

One of the key topics that the group addressed was how consumers’ video viewing habits have changed programming of shows and ads for the industry. Artie Bulgrin from ESPN said, “Consumer behavior is impacting content strategies.” He pointed out that only the best content will win and that content has to be where every person will actually see it. Later in the conversation, Dave Morgan from Simulmedia said, “TV sells better than people bet it does if you use precise targeting.” This notion is also applicable to consumers driving our content in that if were paying attention and using precision targeting to give our audiences what they want, we can be successful.

The fact that viewers are in control of the content is actually something that is exciting for us all as TV watchers. Colleen Fahey Rush with Viacom stated, “It’s a great time to be a fan. You can spend all day with a character if you want.” Not only do networks offer more shows that we want to watch, but we can also binge-watch to catch up on shows that we may not have had time to watch during the week.

In contradiction to what is great for audiences, Alan Wurtzel from NBCU noted that, “The reality now is that we do not have as much time to develop shows. It used to be that we had six months to find the audience and then the rest is history. Not anymore. Its much harder to launch a show.” As a result, there is far less room for error in the TV industry now for everyone involved except the viewer.

Measurement Needs to be a Team Sport

Another main point that came across in this session is that in order to effectively measure and understand audience consumption habits, no one company can do it all. Artie first pointed out that, “Measurement is a team sport now.” Colleen added to that idea saying, “I wish more people in our industry would jump in the pool to get things to a better place, instead of waiting for others to figure it out.” We all need to gravitate around this notion of working together to know and understand the complete picture of our audiences.

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Dave Morgan of Simulmedia continued in a similar vein about the existing state of measurement, “Current ratings arent obsolete, but they are becoming less relevant. Our incumbent measurement isn’t doing the job anymore.” Alan added, “We are not getting the measurement we need by the current currency.”

Third-Party Measurement is Still Essential

When it came down to the question of what needs to change in measurement and media sales, Alan stated, “The reality is that no one is going to trust our own transactional data and we still need third-party measurement.”

However, Alan continued, “We can do more advanced targeting – target in a very specific way, moving from total reliance on demography to do better for our advertisers. There is always a floor of delivery performance for campaigns, but now there are tertiary guarantees. We want to help change attitudes and change behaviors and measure it. We are all moving away from demography to a return on investment.”

All in all, the main take-away from the discussion was that the future of TV will be a group effort. Ultimately meaning, the bifurcation of audiences and measurement will require media buyers and sellers to become more interdependent.

Visit our Industry Summit page for photos and more insights from the conference here .

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