According to figures published earlier this year by ThinkBox, the average Briton watched four hours and 2 minutes of live TV every day in 2010, an increase of 18 minutes year on year. The numbers are very similar in the US, going by Nielsen’s Cross-Platform 2011 report, handily summarised by the Ad Contrarian as follows:.
TV is resilient. Despite the many predictions of the damaging effects of social networks, Sky+, et al., real-time consumption from that “hopeless little screen” (L. Cohen) continues to rise in developed countries.
Indeed, it’s tempting to suggest that the social networks reinforce TV’s status as a real-time canon. One of the most notable aspects of social media conversation is how much of it refers to the media canon of national newspapers and television. Exhibit A: the chart below showing the volume of Twitter conversations around (televised) Wimbledon, a crescendo that unsurprisingly reached its pitch with the live final.
One winner is TV advertising, another species supposedly under threat from social media. The ThinkBox report said viewers were also exposed to an average of 46 ads per day, an increase of three per day compared with 2009. These ads also benefit from social-media’s expansion of the watercooler – this year’s SuperBowl commercials were subject to almost as much social media chatter as the game itself.
I’m not sure it’s all good news for TV though. These meta-commentaries seem to work best – certainly enjoying the most popularity – when the content is, well, let’s call it less-than-demanding. That the X-Factor outperforms Panorama both for viewers and social media interest might seem obvious, but, as always in digital media, laws of cumulative advantage are playing out quickly here. Despite the promise of media democratisation, the niche stays niche, while the successful becomes ever more so.
Net result: TV remains canonical, while getting a whole lot dumber.