The way we watch TV has changed, and the way we talk about it has changed, too. In fact, people don’t watch programmes (or shows) anymore. No, these days it’s content, and we consume it. Binge it. We catch up. As if we’re all racing towards… What? Where is media going next?
The answer to that question will be shaped by advancements in technology. We have smart TVs, mobile devices and media platforms. We stream, download and forever add things to our lists. We consume our chosen content – whenever, wherever and however we like. And it’s the TV industry that’s playing catch up.
Before these advancements in technology, and before the consequent changes in consumer trends, the TV industry ran the show, it scheduled our lives, programmed the behaviour of millions. It gave advertisers access to prime audiences and, most importantly, made them targetable. We were captive.
Aiming your product at children? Then advertise here, between 4 and 6pm. Sponsor this. Place your product in this show. We’re all winners!
Now it’s not so simple. The TV industry has to find new ways of generating revenue. And with the personalisation of our media, with our freedom to choose, the TV industry has more opportunity than ever to target its market.
Netflix is a wonderful example of this. It’s one of the very few companies which foresaw the changes in consumer trends, and even helped to shape them.
Now, for many people, the interface of Netflix is normal, it’s the standard. Content is visible, categorised, and personalised for the user. The platform speaks to us: “Because you watched… You might like…” Trailers and next episodes play automatically, and we love it. Our places, whether in a TV programme or the real world, are saved. They have re-captivated their audience.
And how does Netflix generate revenue? Through subscriptions, of course. And that is one of the appeals of the media platform: no advertisements (apart from their own trailers, of course).
It’s a bold and risky business plan. In 2015, the company went into debt by $1.5 billion to fund its original programming. Netflix realised that in order to continue attracting people to their service (for a monthly fee), they needed to curate the best ever collection of big-name, must-watch shows.
And it worked. In 2017, they gained 24 million new memberships worldwide, growing its streaming revenue by 36% to over $11.6 billion.
This, of course, is not the only way to thrive in the modern world of personalised media. But it has a good starting point, from which many other TV companies could learn: put the consumer, and their content, first.