Tuesday, November 29, 2016

What is the Future of TV News?

Even though we are well into the Internet age, online media continues to evolve. Video continues to improve in quality, and at the same time, it continues to be easier to produce and distribute. Online video is also expanding in the wide variety of ways that it is informing us. From straight news style interviews, to footage from stabilized drones that would have required an expensive helicopter just a couple of years ago. The profuse variety of video is encroaching on, and may be displacing, TV news.

According to the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford, television viewing has declined on by as much as 4% per year since 2012 in countries like the US and the UK. This is similar to the decline in newspaper circulation that happened in the 2000s. I see this as an indicator that as those raised on broadcast television continue to age and decline, viewership of scheduled programming, including TV news, will also decline. They also point out that there is no reason to expect the subsequent generations raised with access to on demand video to choose programmed viewing as they get older.

To further show the demise of cable television, including TV news, the Reuters Institute notes that those habituated to on demand viewing are less willing to be constrained to viewing a cable connected television. They have become accustomed to being able to access video content on any number of internet connecting devices including smart phones and tablets, smart TVs, personal and laptop computers, and gaming consoles. This idea is supported by Digitalsmiths and TiVo’s 2016 quarter three Video Trends Report survey showing nearly 18% of respondents had “cut the cable” within the last 12 months.

With the growing number of people opting out of scheduled programming, more people will either encounter their news by happenstance, or they will actively seek out news programming; most likely it will be a combination of both. Network news will most likely become a place we verify what we have encountered elsewhere. I know that this is the case for myself. Also, it seems to me that TV news programs will continue to shift their focus turning into infotainment programs populated by talking heads. I see the more substantive news being delivered by standalone video articles reporting on specific news events. This would fall in line with the growing demand for instantaneous information.       


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