There’s a cultural shift taking place that may mean the end to an icon — the television set — that we thought was here to stay.
More Americans are spending less time with their television every year according to several new studies.
We’ve replaced the TV set with a computer.
There were 800,000 fewer Americans watching a TV at all by the end of 2009, according to the Convergence Consulting Group, and that number is expected to double to 1.6 million fewer TV viewers by the end of 2011.
That’s a small percentage of the entire viewing audience, but already 17 percent of all viewers, both traditional and computer-only, are watching some episodes of their favorite shows on their computer.
Most networks delay the airing of an episode for at least a day after the original broadcast on television-only but apparently more and more viewers don’t see that as a problem and are willing to wait.
Several factors could be the economy and not wanting to pay an extra bill to a cable company, a lot fewer ads when the show is viewed online or being able to watch the show when it’s convenient.
The fact that the reasons to permanently switch are starting to pile up is another bellwether of a new TV-less age.
The marketing research company, Morpace found that 52 percent of Americans are watching video of some kind on their computer or phone, rather than on their TV.
The evolution of phones has even resulted in 17 percent of those viewers using their phone rather than a laptop to watch a program or a movie. If that keeps up there could be even fewer cable customers as Americans opt to access the internet over their phone, saving even more money, than on their computers.
A new twist may also be regular programming offered on Facebook, according to Morpace. Not only is one in every three hours on the internet spent at the Facebook site, but among 18 to 34 year olds it was a whopping 38 percent. Also, those with an income of $100,000 or greater spent 39 percent of their internet time exclusively at Facebook.
Advertisers, who are spending less and less on TV ads, will go where the faces with expendable income are sitting still for a few hours.
We’ve already shown that we love convenience and cheap stuff. It’s why we have a plethora of drive-up windows to get married, bank or buy dinner, food that needs to be fast that we didn’t make and giant Wal-Mart’s that have yellow happy face stickers announcing even they rolled back their prices.
The trend toward the internet for our viewing entertainment is good news for actors, producers and even writers, for once, because there isn’t the expense of setting up a channel or the limit on the number of web sites, which means more content. T
here are already episodic shows, called webisodes that air only on the internet and have devoted large audiences.
But this could forecast a change in the way on-air news is packaged.
It could become more difficult to reach a diverse audience in large numbers with new ideas that are more niche or dispense information we could use but would rather not hear, like weight loss or saving money.
However, if it means that we can avoid political ads altogether then it might just be worth it.
(E-mail Martha at: Martha@caglecartoons.com.)