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TV viewership is down: Too many excuses, not enough relevance



Cable TV ratings are plunging.  Thank goodness for “Big Bang Theory “ reruns as they have boosted ratings for TBS;  AMC is still alive and thriving thanks to “The Walking Dead”, ironic as it may be.   These are among the handful of networks with increased ratings along with the History Channel according to the March 26, 2012 Wall Street Journal, Ratings Take Slide on Cable. Overall TV viewing is also down.

What I found so interesting in this article are the guesses as to the why viewership is down:  viewers are fickle; on demand availability; syndicated favorite reruns; digital video recorders; etc.

Industry spokespersons cite reduced ratings are caused by Hollywood movies aired last fall which were supposed be aired this spring; some have blamed older reruns, saturation of pay TV; and web viewing; and finally warm weather let people out of the house so they didn’t watch TV. Really?

Ratings volatility makes it much more difficult to sell advertising which, of course, is the lifeblood of the industry.

I can’t help but notice all of the “excuses” offered by industry executives. This is often the case. Businesses will look for external factors to explain downturns.  While external factors do have an impact, it is never the whole story. Not one of the executives talked about their own “product” – The shows themselves. So how relevant is TV today? What holds our interest? What demographic are they playing to?  Do they have relevant programming for each demographic or are they stuck offering programs for the younger generation, when the older generation is bigger and has more money to spend on the products the advertisers promote.   For example, the older generation is buying the car insurance for the younger generation a good percentage of the time.  Do they have to watch some twenty something shows to be reached?  I am sure they spend handsomely for viewer research, but are they listening?

The executives interviewed for this WSJ article didn’t say anything about what the viewers (customers) want; they only talked about being victims of external factors.  Many industries get caught in this trap.  With more of an investment in the voice of their customers, they have a much better shot at getting the train back on the track.  Being relevant is a lost discipline in so many businesses today.  Don’t let it be so in yours.

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