A marketing director for a large company recently asked me for some help defending the use of television as an effective advertising medium to his skeptical board of directors. The board’s view is that the Internet has taken over as the most powerful personal medium, and that television is no longer effective. The power of hype to distort reality never ceases to amaze me, and the distorted perception around the takeover of television by the Net is certainly the greatest example of that power in my lifetime.
Has the Net had a profound impact on all of our lives? Undeniably. Is television a dying medium as a result? Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, some studies show that television usage has actually been on the rise.
“It’s often assumed that the time we devote to the Net comes out of the time we would otherwise spend watching TV. But statistics suggest otherwise. Most studies of media activity indicate that as Net use has gone up, television viewing has either held steady or increased. The Nielsen Company’s long-running survey reveals that the time Americans devote to TV viewing has been going up throughout the Web era. The hours we spend in front of the tube rose another two percent between 2008 and 2009, reaching 153 hours a month, the highest level since Nielsen began collecting data in the 1950s (and that doesn’t include the time people spend watching shows on their computers).”
The time people are now devoting to using the Internet has come at the expense of reading newspapers, magazines, and books. The newspaper publishing industry has been particularly decimated by this shift in media habits. Of the four major categories of personal media, print is now the least used, lagging far behind television, computers, and radio. We need not worry about the future of television in our lifetimes. Literacy is another matter.