Change Is In The Air, Can You Feel It?

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


Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio, Sales

13 responses to “Change Is In The Air, Can You Feel It?

  1. Jay Werth

    My experience pretty much mirrors yours, Dick. In my case, no commercial radio consumption, and live commercial television is limited to select sporting events. What a changed media landscape since you and I started in radio!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Ken

    Great observations. To add: There was a moment not long ago when the quality of programming on professional outlets crossed the same inadequate level as that of Enthusiastic Amateur creative (i.e.: podcasts, YouTube, Tik Tok). Local news has been especially hard hit in this area of bad writing, fact reporting and visual support. (In our area is All Weather. All the Time.)

    The audience today has adjusted and accepts a lower quality; crassness, jokes with no point, and camera cuts that occur so fast you don’t have time to digest what you just saw before the next picture is on the screen.

    Worst of it all is that reading does not appear to be coming back into vogue.


  3. aaronread1

    The 2021 Superbowl was between the Chiefs & the Buccaneers. Nielsen viewers were 91.63 million, according to Wikipedia. The Bears/Colts game at 96.4 mil viewers *was* the 2010 game.


    Liked by 1 person

  4. I just have to say that seeing your quote from Thomas Kuhn made my day!! His book “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” is a minor masterpiece. Along with McLuhan, he influenced my thinking on many topics relating to our business. It’s basically a study of human nature, and the thesis of the book is that human nature is immutable, and that once we accept a premise, our minds snap shut and are only opened when we come up against brutally undeniable reality. That’s where we are in the traditional media world: We’re hypnotized by our vision of media, and we’re blinded to what’s been going on for over 30 years now. Why wouldn’t that be the case? We’ve built lives and careers in broadcasting. The digital world seemed like a novelty.
    On the positive side, we can see a way forward to keep broadcasting a part of the media mix: live, can’t-miss programming. In my estimation, that’s our only strength, and it’s a big one. As to why the Super Bowl still garners a large audience and the Oscars bombed, I think it’s a cautionary tale for those who go off brand. Even in a year without movie theaters, the Oscars would have a more positive response if it was entertainment-based, and eschewed politics. The day after the show (which I didn’t watch, for the first time), I said on the air “Everybody has political opinions, and we respect that, but that’s not why we tune in.” No one argued.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yet another insightful and timely post. Indeed, things are much different now than 10, 20, 30, 40, or even 50 years ago. Back in 1971, there were only at least three or four TV channels in most places, about a dozen or so radio stations, at least one daily newspaper, one weekly newspaper, and maybe multiple magazines. And that was just depending upon one’s location only a half-century ago. Now, in 2021, the average American’s attention span in terms of media choices appears to be getting shorter and shorter with each passing day, with more people choosing which content to devote the most attention to. Again, thanks for sharing and posting.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. ds52

    Chiefs and Buccaneers played in the 2021 Super Bowl – one of a handful of times I ever turned on a TV in our ‘house.” I dislike today’s one-sided news reporting … I read my newspapers on-line most days but I read with more comprehension when I actually have a real paper (I dislike ads on the Internet versions)

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, another reader caught my error and I’ve corrected it to now read:

      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.

      Thanks for the fact check.

      Liked by 1 person

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