A long time ago in a living room far, far away, families would gather around the television set and watch nightly entertainment.
Then came VHS, giving us all the ability to record our favorite shows and watch them at a later time, only to soon be replaced by this mysterious box known as a DVR, enabling direct recording of live television in digital format.
But then, this magical place called ‘The Internet’ was discovered and we all soon found ourselves able to transfer large quantities of data rapidly across this series of tubes. With that, our media consumption would be changed forever, as services such as Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and more would offer endless opportunities to watch our favorite shows and movies whenever we wanted. Nobody could judge us for watching the entire series of ‘Friday Night Lights’ in under a week!
Alan Wurtzel, an executive at NBC Universal, revealed data that the consumption of live television has dropped to 51% in the past seven years, down from 81% in 2008. Over the past seven years, as bandwidth has increased and streaming on-demand options have expanded, live television has seen its biggest decrease yet. The data also found that non-live television consumption was most often utilized by younger audiences. In other words, the younger you are, the more likely it is you would never bother to tune in at 8PM to watch your favorite shows live on NBC, you’re far more likely to turn to a service like Hulu or watch the show through your cable provider’s on-demand functionality.
This 51% number feels about right during such a major shift in the entertainment industry, but it certainly seems likely to fall even further. Network television executives are starting to ramp up their digital offerings, NBC recently releasing their ‘Seeso‘ standalone app, CBS with their “all access” offering, and more.
It seems likely that live television will continue to decline, even as NBC and others attempt to bring in “live events” like ‘Wiz’ and ‘Hairspray,’ which certainly attract interest. But other than sports, the ability to stream television on our own schedules is a benefit that is only going to begin appealing to a bigger and bigger audience.