In my work with non-profits, religious organizations, an even businesses, more and more people are turning away from the TV broadcast world to the online world. To some degree, it’s natural, and digital media should be an important part of your strategic plan for connecting with a larger audience or customer base. However, in a world that’s crazy over online media, content producers shouldn’t forget what broadcast media does very well, and especially why you shouldn’t be too quick to walk away from traditional TV:
1) When it comes to full-length programming, TV is still the king. YouTube, Vimeo, and similar sites generate enormous views, but it’s still mostly short clips. As filmmaker George Lucas described, “Videos of puppies crossing a freeway.” He used that illustration to describe the way that YouTube captures attention and can be interesting, but rarely a long-form, compelling experience.
2) As a result, TV is still “America’s campfire.” Nothing online generates the type of water-cooler conversation that “American Idol” does. For all the talk about “community” online, we actually watch online videos primarily as individuals, but we still watch TV in groups. As a result, the experience is different, and in media and entertainment, that issue matters.
3) Amassing a big audience online doesn’t yet guarantee big ad revenues. The TV audience is a buying audience. Online? We’re not sure yet.
4) TV & film content still drives most entertainment. Even the most successful online entertainment venture – Hulu.com – for the most part is TV programming re-purposed online. The most popular online programs are simply TV programs on a different medium.
Don’t get me wrong. The world is moving online, but that doesn’t mean TV is going away. Radio didn’t displace movies, and TV didn’t replace radio. New platforms perform new purposes and don’t necessarily displace old media. TV has a lot to offer, and in an effective media strategy, don’t forget that component.