Jeff Cole thinks if there’s anything that will sink TV, it isn’t SVOD and YouTube — it’s football.
The head of USC Annenberg’s Center for the Digital Future, which conducts yearly research on changing technology and consumer trends, delivered some of its latest findings at an annual Mindshare breakfast this week, which invited the ad agency’s employees to the table to hear from Cole and ask how it could benefit their clients.
The Center’s research, which began as U.S. only, has expanded has been following many of the same people throughout the 17 years that it has been conducting it, which Cole said allows it to get a better handle on how different demographics are evolving as time goes on.
If football goes down, so does TV
“Nobody watches crap anymore,” said Cole, joking that many people will cite that quote from him without his usual follow-up. “What the full quote is, nobody watches what is crap to them.”
He explained that people are now more choosy about their content, which makes a major difference in how it’s consumed.
“The television I grew up with was television on a schedule,” he said. “There was even an art and a science to scheduling. You put a big show like Friends at eight, you put a Seinfeld at nine, you put a new show in the middle, no one’s going to change the channel. Now we watch the way we want, we stockpile in different ways.”
He said networks have been slow to adapt, but they are coming along by posting ancillary content online on YouTube and Facebook, particularly late night shows like Saturday Night Live and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.
Audiences don’t hate commercials as much as we think
As television faces an uncertain future, there’s still the growing market for SVOD. Both Simon and Cole predicted that in the near future, services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime will begin advertising in some form, be it pre-roll or mid-roll.
Ernie Simon said it might actually be a welcome change for viewers.
“People like to take in content with a burst and a break,” he said, adding that “even with a book I feel like I need a bit of a break.” Cole also asserted that the biggest complaint PBS used to get was that viewers couldn’t get up to take a break because it didn’t run commercials.
Both Cole and Simon agreed that viewers on all mediums aren’t as opposed to ads as people think they are.
“Historically, even when I got into the industry, we all said, ‘Everyone hates advertising, nobody wants to be advertised to,’” said Simon. “I don’t think they hate advertising. They hate bad advertising.”
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