One of the big stories in the media world is the so-called “death of television,” the idea that young people are ditching their expensive cable packages in favor of watching video content online through sites like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and Amazon Prime.
But while it’s true that cable subscription rates and viewership among young folks are slightly in decline, the real fight for television networks like CBS is not being waged between television and online video.
It’s between the traditional producers of video content (CBS, NBC, Fox, ABC, and the cable networks) and the online native upstarts (YouTube creators, Netflix originals, Buzzfeed, AOL, etc).
In essence, television is not dying so much as it is evolving into an all-encompassing video category, one that includes content streamed over the internet on computers and mobile devices, as well as shows accessed on-demand via set-top cable boxes and connected TVs.
Case in point: CBS chief research officer David F. Poltrack told attendees at a conference yesterday that the shift of viewers from television to digital video was actually a good thing for the company.
Variety reports Poltrack said that when a viewer streams a CBS program over the internet, the company makes 10% to 20% more in advertising revenue than it would have had the viewer watched the show on traditional television.
According to Variety, Poltrack told the 2014 Media & Entertainment Industry Forum in New York that since viewers can’t fast-forward through online ads, they’re more likely to remember the brand featured than they would if they had zoomed through the ad via DVR.
But while Poltrack embraced the digital shift, Variety reports that he was quick to throw shade at CBS’ real enemies: web startups making video content specifically for the internet.
In what can only be seen as a shot at YouTube networks and the host of web properties investing in producing more video content, Poltrack told the audience that there just wasn’t enough “quality” video online for the brands that want to advertise during it.
The threat to the major TV networks is not that TV is dying but that new, digital-native properties are thriving.
After all, few consumers would say they love “internet video” or “television.” What they really care about is watching the stories that inform and entertain them, wherever they’re being told.