Monday, February 13, 2012

The Continuing Success of Linear Radio and TV

CC licenced by Marius Arnesen, NRKbeta.

Linear radio and TV, or broadcasting, is out. It is oldfashioned. No one wants to consume programmes exactly when they air anyway and to have to rely on a schedule. Or is this yet again words that are often echoed thanks to the internet lobby?

I would clearly say the latter. We hear a lot about new over the top and on demand services. They will give everyone the freedom to watch or listen to whatever they want whenever. Such services are great! But they complement live broadcasting, they do in no way replace it. Nor should they, as the internet is not designed nor suited to cater for heavy radio and TV consumption. Claims that the internet will solve "everything" are inaccurate and false.

There are several reasons why live TV and live radio is a success and will stay successful, strong and important also in the future.

1. Sports
You do not want to watch or listen to recorded sports. Not entire games, matches or events at least. Nothing beats the excitement of a good football match, Tour de France leg or crosscountry ski race. Highlights are different, though. You will be happy to relive the fantastic goals of your team many times over.

2. News
Breaking news share some of the characteristics of sports. You want to see the press conference or get information following the terror attack as the events happen. Recorded news are hardly "news" anymore, but archived news. You may be happy with a recorded sum up on a 'normal' day, but especially breaking news events change the game.

3. New releases
Every programme has a premiere. And premieres attract a lot of people, whether we are talking about a blockbuster in the cinema or a television drama. It seems like people prefer to watch television at the same time as everyone else, at least not later. "Lillyhammer," a Norwegian TV drama series airing on Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation's NRK1, is for instance breaking viewership records every episode (three episodes of eight shown so far).

4. Live discussions
You cannot discuss a TV show or a radio programme in realtime with someone who is not watching or listening at the same time as you. My Twitter and Facebook feeds are regularly dominated by discussions or comments on TV and radio programmes.

5. Being served
To be attended to is a luxury. Some people feel that they already make too many decicions during a day. At work, in school, at home. To just unwind and be served quality programmes by someone who knows content and are qualified to pick out eminent programmes can be a luxury. -You know the menu, please serve me your best programmes.

6. Discovery
Linear consumption is a great way to discover new programmes or artists. There is always a new programme that starts after the previous one. And they may be totally different, giving you insight into new subjects, music or genres. 

7. Discrimination free
Broadcasted free to air radio and TV does not discriminate. Everyone can get it and everyone gets the same offering.

8. No personalization!
Linear radio and TV is thankfully not personalized. Think about it. Google and Facebook and many others take pride in personalizing everything. To make it better. Although this "improvement service" is based on your previous behaviour and what other "like you" do or recommend. It is all about guessing. And it is often about making more money from advertisers. With radio and TV, every consumer listener will be presented the same information in the same manner and in the same order. With the Internet, this is no longer necessarily the case, and a lot of on demand programmes or short clips will be followed by "if you like this, you might also like these." I have covered this before in The Bias of the Internet.

9. Emergencies
In the case of major emergencies, broadcasters often stop their regular programming and inform you of what is happening. And they can inform everyone at once without the network going down. To stop a streamed on demand programme should also technically be possible, but I have yet to see it happen. And the internet will go down or at least slow down dramatically if too many people use it at the same time.

Not yet convinced about the future of broadcasted radio and TV? Read about related issues in Why the Internet Won't Solve Everything.