Commercial Breakdown: Can Television Withstand the Internet?

In 2009, the Internet Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers published figures indicating that the UK had become the first major economy where advertisers spent more on internet advertising than on television advertising. The statistics underpinning the report, as is often the case, are somewhat open to interpretation, but they did show that TV’s place as the dominant advertising sector, held for over 50 years, was being significantly eroded by the rise of online advertising in just a decade.

The timing of this report was significant. While online ad spend had been charging upward, the economic downturn let to a drought in TV ads. Since then, TV has begun to stumble back onto its feet, but so far it seems there’s no abating online’s growth.

What does this mean for television as a medium? What are broadcasters and media buyers doing to defend their revenue? And how will this affect us viewers?

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Changing Channels

My grandfather used to complain that technology was always at a point some way in front of him, and moving away at an ever increasing rate. In the eighties he complained that having four television channels was wasteful, as it meant that it was only possible to consume a quarter of broadcasts at one time. In the nineties he refused to tune the television to receive the new fifth channel on account of the fact that there were already plenty of broadcasts he wasn’t watching and didn’t feel the need to let any more go to waste. Now that he has passed on, I pray that his afterlife is a plane of gentle, asynchronous consistency.

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