This year’s Academy Awards on ABC recorded an all-time low in viewership with fewer than 10 million people who thought it was worth their time to tune in to see which picture was named the year’s best (Nomadland), or who won best actress (Frances McDormand) or best actor (Anthony Hopkins).
Was it because all the theaters closed down in 2020 due to COVID-19 that people didn’t care about the movies?
No, the Oscars telecast is suffering the same fate that has befallen the Golden Globes, Primetime Emmys and the Grammys; today there’s lots of competition for our attention.
Miss America Who?
I lived in Atlantic City, New Jersey for the better part of two decades. My WFPG-AM 1450 radio station was the flagship station for the Miss America radio broadcasts and continued broadcasting the annual beauty pageant to the South Jersey radio market long after network television took over broadcasting the pageant to the nation, via TV.
If you don’t know who the reigning Miss America is (Camille Schrier), you’re not alone, as only 3.61 million people tuned into the NBC telecast; continuing a downward trend of its audience ratings.
World Series Strikes Out
The 2020 World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays saw Game Three entering the record books as the least-watched World Series game since Nielsen began tracking ratings in 1968. Just over 8 million people watched.
Super Bowl 2021 Fumbles
With everyone being sequestered at home, and the annual Super Bowl telecasts being the most watched programs on television since 2010, you might scratch your head wondering how the most recent Super Bowl matchup between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs only attracted 96.4 million viewers making it the lowest rated Super Bowl since 2007, when the Colts vs. The Bears attracted only 93.1 million viewers.
Before the 2010 Super Bowl, the season finale of M*A*S*H reigned as the most viewed television program for 27 years, with 105.9 million viewers saying goodbye to Hawkeye and friends in February of 1983.
The 2010 Super Bowl broadcast would garner 106.5 million viewers, and each Super Bowl broadcast after that would become the new most watched program on television.
Welcome to The Internet Revolution
In the 20th Century, the industrial economy was top-down, with all decisions originating from the CEO’s office. The 21st Century now depends on building relationships, collaboration and networking. Not since the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s has America seen anything like what’s happening today.
You’re probably in one of two camps with regard to the speed of change happening right now: one group believes things are changing too fast, and the other group believes things aren’t changing fast enough. Business leaders no longer can sit on the fence about the issues that face us, but are being forced into picking a side.
The media industry that was birthed, and has been fully supported by the selling of advertising, is now looking towards selling subscriptions to support itself. Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, PBS Passport, Amazon Prime, YouTubeTV, Paramount+, HBOMax, AppleTV+, Showtime, Starz, Frndly, and SlingTV are all subscription supported. Then there’s all the music streaming services you can subscribe to like Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music, and Apple Music.
Do you like to listen to podcasts, well Spotify and Apple have announced those too will be adding a new subscription option for podcasts you might currently be enjoying for free.
In our house, we subscribe to seven different streaming video services, which grew from zero just five years ago and we currently use ad-supported audio streaming services from Pandora, Amazon and TuneIn. We access all of our streaming services by asking Alexa to play what we’re in the mood to hear via anyone of our four Echo’s and three Alexa equipped televisions.
I honestly cannot remember the last time I watched any commercial television channels.
Whether watching video, listening to audio or reading publications like The Washington Post, The Atlantic, AXIOS or the multitude of radio/TV publications that I devour each day, all of it comes to me ON DEMAND and via the internet.
Our household literally has more content than we have hours in a day to consume and still have time for a life with family and friends outside of the home.
The Future of Media Consumption
For the consumer, streaming consumption is the future, but there is a limit to how much media we can consume, let alone afford to subscribe to and we are approaching a peak in both.
For the media companies, understanding their future will demand a clear-eyed review at how the present came into existence. It will be survival of the fittest and not all will make it.
“Every model is flawed.
Some can be useful for decades or even centuries,
but eventually circumstances change and they become untenable.
After a period of tumult, they collapse and a new paradigm emerges.”-Thomas Kuhn