Is Tra­di­tional TV Broad­cast Doomed?

Have we reached a point where on­line video is slowly re­plac­ing tra­di­tional broad­cast tele­vi­sion in the Mid­dle East? “Not re­ally sure about that!”, ex­plains Zeina Ac­cawi, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of PAZ Mar­ket­ing.

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It’s as­suredly clear that on­line video is grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity, but the [ad­ver­tis­ing?] in­dus­try in gen­eral is un­der­go­ing a shift. The jump of tech­nol­ogy in the re­gion is rush­ing so quickly that find­ing the right bal­ance be­tween ad­dress­ing today’s chal­lenges and plan­ning for the next big thing can be a strug­gle. Look­ing for­ward is what will make broad­cast­ers in­no­vate, pros­per and sur­vive by in­tro­duc­ing plat­forms that goes with these changes.

Go­ing back to his­tory, when tele­vi­sion was in­tro­duced, de­vel­op­ments largely con­sisted of ra­dio shows for­mat­ted for tele­vi­sion be­cause pro­duc­ers hadn’t yet fig­ured out how to ex­ploit the new medium; then with time, tele­vi­sion evolved to make bet­ter use of the vis­ual medium. Today, tele­vi­sion pro­gram­ming is re­for­mat­ted for smaller screens, ac­com­pa­nied by mar­ket­ing cam­paigns that, in my opin­ion, do not re­ally com­ple­ment the main screen ex­pe­ri­ence – and the big­gest proof is seen when we skip ads on our phones!

Ad­di­tion­ally, tele­vi­sion serves as the pri­mary screen, and tablets and mo­biles are both sec­ondary. How­ever, that doesn’t mean we are not en­ter­ing an era where all screens will work flaw­lessly to­gether, they will just hap­pen to come in a wide range of sizes.

In ad­di­tion, view­er­ship ex­pec­ta­tions are a ques­tion! View­ers in the Mid­dle East are used to and love be­ing part of an ex­pe­ri­ence, and we don’t see this on tablets or phones. That’s why celebrity Twit­ter feeds are so pop­u­lar: it’s the only plat­form where celebri­ties ac­tively com­mu­ni­cate with their fans, mak­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence even more per­sonal, which leads to deeper con­nec­tions. Story is ev­ery­thing, but a story with a per­sonal con­nec­tion is un­beat­able.

We can’t deny that the in­crease in view­ing on de­vices other than tele­vi­sion is ex­pected to grow. But as mar­keters we need to be smart and grab the op­por­tu­nity to bet­ter use this plat­form in the future!

On the other hand, re­search shows that: “55 per­cent of peo­ple watch two or more hours of on­line video each week, with more than 11 per­cent watch­ing 10 or more hours per week. Right now, on­line video, for most peo­ple, is noth­ing more than an add-on to their tra­di­tional tele­vi­sion ex­pe­ri­ence. They might watch two or more hours of on­line video each week, but it doesn’t come any­where near the daily five hours of tra­di­tional tele­vi­sion watched by peo­ple,” ac­cord­ing to Lime­light Net­works.

Go­ing back to the tran­si­tion from tele­vi­sion to on­line video, the phe­nom­e­non is re­liant on three pil­lars. The first is con­sumer be­hav­ior, the sec­ond is the busi­ness model and the third is the de­liv­ery ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

Con­sumer be­hav­iour: Peo­ple want to con­sume TV con­tent wher­ever they are and on what­ever de­vice.

Busi­ness model: Con­tent pro­duc­ers are slowly be­gin­ning to shift their busi­ness mod­els from be­ing solely de­pen­dent on ad­ver­tis­ing to a model that in­cludes sub­scrip­tions.

De­liv­ery ca­pa­bil­i­ties: Speed is im­por­tant and con­sump­tion of high-def­i­ni­tion on­line video is key. So does it work in all coun­tries within the re­gion? Not sure!

Nev­er­the­less, let’s not deny that the tip­ping point has al­ready hap­pened! Peo­ple, con­sumers and busi­nesses are keener on watch­ing con­tent on­line, be it on their phones, tablets or TV. This de­mand and for­mat is 100 per­cent go­ing to see a de­cline in TV sub­scribers and make re­dun­dant paid tele­vi­sion sub­scrip­tions.

Is tra­di­tional TV threat­ened by on­line video? 100 per­cent. Are we in an ac­cep­tance phase? No. Is there de­sire and de­mand? YES. Con­clu­sion: We still have few years to go be­fore on­line video re­ally dis­places the tra­di­tional tele­vi­sion ex­pe­ri­ence in the Mid­dle East!

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