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Digital: The turning age of consumption and the death of TV?

The 1980s signalled a turning point in the evolution of leisure, the last generation (specifically millennials) to be born into an analogue childhood and grow up with a digital adulthood.

 

When Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web 30 years ago, it was the start of the information age (commonly referred to as the digital age), an explosion of technological advances in all industries that ultimately shaped how we interact and consume today.

 Pic 1 - netflix

This is particularly true of TV. The humble television set was once a beacon of family time and ‘togetherness’, bringing people together to spend time watching shows as a collective. Now, the deregulation of life has meant significant shifts in freedom in what we do, when we do it and how we do it. We live in an age of choice, which has seen the average British household own two TVs, and 30 million have some sort of streaming subscription.

 

TV consumption is in decline, and the nature of what we’re watching is also changing. However, big events, such as Royal weddings and sports events are still viewed in collective masses. No longer bound by a TV schedule, digital has enabled us to live ‘on demand’ lifestyles, consuming film and TV where and when we want – ‘content snacking’ on various devices.

 Pic 2 - live experience

Whilst digital has contributed to the decline in traditional TV viewership, interestingly the biggest threat to TV is the out of home experience. People prefer to enjoy their hobbies and prioritise live experiences over watching TV. The percentage of waking hours spent neither at home or work has been steadily increasing, thanks to the experience economy, the growing trend for people to spend more on ‘experiences’ rather than on commodities. As digital has shaped the way we consume, the experience economy is shaping the future of leisure and ultimately how people choose to spend their time.

By Cecilia Law - Senior Marketer

"The humble television set was once a beacon of family time and ‘togetherness’, bringing people together to spend time watching shows as a collective. Now, the deregulation of life has meant significant shifts in freedom in what we do, when we do it and how we do it."

We’ve previously looked at the end of the screen age, the rise of VR, and radio finding its new calling via the popularity of podcasts, all of which discusses how these mediums are evolving their status as a communications channel. Digital has its part to play and as product lifecycles go, TV has had a better shelf life (currently 92 years and counting for the electric TV) than other entertainment devices (think MiniDisc, Google Glass, and various Sega consoles…). TV may get a new lease of life as research finds the older age groups are consuming more TV than 6 years ago. And it’s projected that older people are will outnumber the young in years to come so we may find ourselves once again succumbing to the passive experience of the modest TV schedule.