The thing the makes TV the most prestigious advertising medium is the fact that the numbers are missing. Viewership is almost myth. You may very well say that a show has millions of viewers simply for hype sake. No one can deny those numbers and no one can confirm them either.
What if we could see the number of skipped commercials, the number of channels surfed for a mere
.7 seconds, or the shows that were not watched at all. If we added the same metrics we see on YouTube to our TV shows, it might be a little disappointing.
Even though manufacturers are starting to add the word "smart" in front of TV, it is still a new phenomenon. A TV is to the internet what a book is to the Internet. It is a passive device that simply airs whatever that is on, with very little control on our side. Selecting the show you want to watch depends on when it is going to air, it's like the doctor's appointment you can't miss.
TV is not what it used to be. I can't watch any show live anymore. Instead I record it on the DVR and watch it later where I can skip the commercials. And when it does not allow me to do so, I don't watch it all together.
Watching anything on the internet is opposite. You have full control to watch a show anytime you please.
Today's subscription model however has changed. Most companies provide you with a box that has access to the internet. Not only they allow you to watch stuff the old way, but you have access to YouTube, Netflix, and other streaming services. Your choice is much wider.
With this constant connection to the internet, these companies have real time data of everything you watch. Whether this data is anonymized or not, we will spare the privacy concerns for another blog post. What happens when you are looking at the list of shows and next to it, you see the number of views?
This does not require any changes to the devices we have. It is simply a UI update that will have a tremendous effect on the way we watch TV. The data is already there. We know that some YouTube channels have more viewers than entire TV packages. Even though this number might not directly affect the quality of a show, it will be a good indicator of how popular something is.
We did it on articles and pictures with Facebook likes or Twitter shares, we did it on videos with YouTube, it's only natural for TV programs to follow along. I do believe we will be very disappointed in the numbers however. TV just not as popular as it used to.
Don't add comments though, we all know what YouTube comments are. We just want that disappointing number next to the video.
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