The Internet Eats TV

It’s no secret that the internet is taking over nearly every aspect of our lives. I’ve long advocated that the best thing arts organizations can do to build their audiences and to promote what they are doing is to embrace the internet as a bona fide publishing medium.

What do I mean by that? Rather than having your website serve as a glorified calendar, or as an enhanced repository for artist bios, it should be a content hub to help those who are already your patrons become more engaged, and those who might be, get to know what is special about your organization. Whether that is a regular series of videos or a podcast or interviews, content marketing — which is what this is called in the trade — is something every organization ought to be doing.

Why is this more important today than before? One reason can be found in an article I saw recently on Recode: “Next year, people will spend more time online than they will watching TV. That’s a first.” According to the article:

In 2019, people are expected to spend an average of 170.6 minutes each day on online activities like watching videos on YouTube, sharing photos on Facebook and shopping on Amazon. They’ll spend slightly less time — 170.3 minutes — watching TV.

As an aside, I find it astounding that anyone spends 170 minutes each day watching TV. That’s nearly three hours! But past that, the point is that people have a lot of free time, and they are using it more and more to access information on the internet than on television. And the percentage of “cord cutters” who are simply getting their entertainment on Netflix and other streaming services is increasing. The experience of flipping on the television to find something interesting is quickly becoming a thing of the past.

The article goes on to explain that this phenomenon is a worldwide trend and that we here in the United States are still — for the time being — more addicted to TV. Looks as if the tipping of the scale toward the internet won’t happen here until the way, way, out there — in the year 2020. That’s 2 years from now!

Take a look at this chart, which I hope will cement this phenomenon:

Let’s return to the earlier point that we are all in the business of creating engaging and creative content. The fundamental truth is that generating quality content is no longer a matter of access. Just give up on the idea that getting on TV is something that matters. Rather, today is all about quality. Create quality content, and people will watch.   

And for those organizations seeking a way to attract younger audiences (aren’t all organizations?), you need not look any further than the screen right in front of you.

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