From the Future of Television Conference

by | Nov. 20, 2008

I am in New York this week spending time at The Future of Television East event, which was held Tuesday and Wednesday. It was another interesting conference, with a mixture of media executives and the "old guard" of television plus the companies that are now making noise in the online video space (Hulu,,, etc.).

There are definitely some differing opinions about what online and mobile video means to the broadcasters. Representatives from NBC-U, CBS, and ABC are all very positive about raising TV audience numbers. However, a new IBM study says that active online video viewers are watching less TV.

Interesting data from CBS about average audience age for a how like How I Met Your Mother:
• On air: mid-40s
• Online: 28

CBS says says that while 75% of Internet users are watching some video online each week television viewing has gone up 8% in all demographics since 2000. Teenagers are watching 7% more television over that time.

What Jeff Zucker said last year about how digital media is effectively turning “analog dollars into digital pennies” looms over all of this supposed good news the broadcasters are reporting. Many in the audience were interested in knowing whether the broadcasters felt that they were actually growing their revenues as opposed to simply stemming their losses. Nobody ever answered that question. I sense that we’re still in such a fuzzy area about this new age of digital distribution that nobody really knows the answer. Lots of hope that VoD and targeted advertising can boost revenues for both the broadcasters and the cable operators. Lots of hope that social networking aspects of this new digital era will allow consumers to be more fully immersed in both programming and advertising, but it seems largely theoretical right now.

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