During the past few years, much has been written on the diminishing role of television in young people’s lives. Are the concerns of broadcasters justified?
To answer this question, we must avoid making sweeping generalisations, such as “TV viewing numbers are falling”, and question exactly what is meant by “TV” in this context. Is it an over-the-air transmission medium, the programs themselves, or the physical box that (for many decades) sat in one’s living room? Although broadcast TV viewership is in freefall, especially for under-50 demographics (25-34 year olds watched 13.4% less in Q2 2016 than in 2015, a drop of nearly 9 hours a month (Turner, 2016)), it can hardly be argued that the 30-minute or 1-hour episodic format is obsolete – indeed, only eight hours after the latest episode of Game of Thrones aired, it was downloaded over a million times via BitTorrent (“Game of Thrones’ season six finale pulls record paying viewers but piracy continues,” 2016).
TVs themselves also remain popular, with new innovations (such as 4K, OLED, HDR, quantum dot and wallpaper thickness (Dunn, 2017)) released every year – a rate of change that broadcasters are struggling to catch up with. Australia has been consistently slow to adopt new TV technologies, as evidenced by our belated switch to colour in 1975, nearly ten years after the United States (“40 years of colour TV,” 2014). At first glance, the current situation is very similar – ABC only started broadcasting in 1080p HD in 2016, several years after 4K TVs became available (Serrels, 2016). However, the key difference is that, in the 1970s, viewers were at the mercy of the free-to-air networks, and did not enjoy today’s veritable smorgasbord of online and (often) overseas content.
40 years of colour TV. (2014, 7th October). Television.AU. Retrieved 15th May 2017, from http://televisionau.com/2014/10/40-years-of-colour-tv.html
Dunn, M. (2017, 7th May). The premium TVs coming to the Australian market in 2017. news.com.au. Retrieved 15th May 2017, from http://www.news.com.au/technology/home-entertainment/tv/the-premium-tvs-coming-to-the-australian-market-in-2017/news-story/f99fde0230601d334ded24844ab84e2c
Game of Thrones’ season six finale pulls record paying viewers but piracy continues. (2016, 29th June). ABC News. Retrieved 15th May 2017, from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-29/game-of-thrones-season-six-finale-audience-figures-record-piracy/7552770
Serrels, M. (2016, 10th November). The ABC Is Changing To HD, Just In Time For 4k. Gizmodo. Retrieved 15th May 2017, from https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2016/11/the-abc-is-changing-to-hd-just-in-time-for-4k/
Turner, A. (2016, 6th October). TV viewing figures saved by older Australians glued to the box. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 15th May 2017, from http://www.smh.com.au/technology/gadgets-on-the-go/tv-viewing-figures-saved-by-older-australians-glued-to-the-box-20161005-grvuk8.html