TV retains "super media" status: Deloitte

Growing global audience levels and rising adspend show that television remains a form of "super media" despite the many challenges to its status, according to Deloitte.

The consultancy argues 40m new viewers should tune in for the first time around the world this year, with an extra 140bn hours of content being consumed.

On average, individuals will dedicate three-and-a-quarter hours each day to linear broadcast material, measured against 15 minutes utilising social networks. Advertising expenditure through this channel is pegged to improve by $10bn (€7.5bn; £6.3bn), hitting $191bn, in 2011. The TV medium is also set to enjoy strengthening influence over other types of media, like books and music.

"Prophecies of the imminent obsolescence of television will again be proved wrong in 2011 and instead its status as a 'super media' will be reinforced," the study stated.

One development often perceived as threatening traditional models is the popularity of digital video recorders, enabling consumers to fast-forward commercials.

Deloitte calculated that a majority of UK households could boast at least one DVR (PVR) by December, but also asserted the 30-second spot possesses continuing importance. This is partly because avoiding all brand messages requires recording every programme and then speeding up the breaks.

"Even then, viewers would need to keep their eyes shut when fast-forwarding as studies suggest that even commercials viewed at 12 times the normal speed leave an impression on viewers, specifically the last advert before the show restarts," Deloitte said.

Between 15% and 25% of programming is "skipped" by DVR owners, meaning the advertiser-funded model is relatively stable compared with areas like DVD rentals.

Elsewhere, web-enabled services including Apple TV and Google TV mark the latest in a long line of innovations expected to reshape the industry.

Deloitte advised caution, however substantial the potential displayed by these products, offering features incorporating search, streaming and multimedia functionality.

"The inherently passive nature of watching television stands in the way of a mass market behavioural change amongst viewers that will take many years to arise," its study added.

While TV retains its leading role, social networks should see user numbers surpass 1bn in 2011, and deliver an estimated 2tr ads.

Less positively, the surging uptake experienced by sites such as Facebook and Twitter may generate ad revenues of just $5bn, or $4 per member, falling below 1% of total media budgets.

"That's a slow start for the technology sector's next big thing which has promised greater rewards the decade-old phenomenon of search advertising," Deloitte said.

"Perhaps the billions of stated 'likes' on social networks does not translate into tangible purchases."

As the category is still at a nascent stage, it might quickly be transformed into an e-commerce and payment hub, the report predicted.

Advertisers can also yield advantages from leveraging word of mouth recommendations spread via Web 2.0 properties, although this offers limited returns for website operators.

"Monetising the rapid rise in users is not yet a perfect science," Deloitte concluded.

Source: WARC article extract, data sourced from Deloitte (additional content by Warc staff) 19 January 2011

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Published February 2011