Op-ed: Television more buoyant than ever

It's mere myth that TV's effectiveness as an ad venue is declining, writes the head of the Television Bureau of Canada.

Different research sources and methodologies produce disparate results. In the case of television – whether you prefer the BBM diary panel or BBM-NMR meter panel – and whether you favour per capita or per viewer data, the fact remains that television viewing has continued to grow over the last 10 years. Naysayers are quick to reply that viewing levels are buoyed by the aging population and that it is the younger segments that are dying off. Not true. Take a look at the chart below.

The fact is, viewing among 18-34s, 18-24s, teens, and children is higher now than it was 10 years ago (based on weekly per capita hours, NMR). The same is true for other measured segments.

Looking at this from the consumer perspective, the appeal of television is demonstrated by Canadians’ growing spending for all things television – cable and satellite subscription, digital services, HDTV, Pay-TV, PVRs, etc. Granted, some of these formats impact and even preclude advertising (an important source of revenue to television broadcasters). But this situation is a challenge for broadcasters to address, just as other media must face their own challenges – whether declining usage, or questionable audience measurement.

The bottom line is that Canadians consume all media to varying degrees, depending on who they are, their interests, needs, and where they live. Per capita, Canadians 18+ spend 28.6 hours weekly with television (versus 6.7 hours online – comScore, May 2007). Occasional headlines touting the demise of television are clearly unfounded. Instead, this industry’s energy is better spent focusing on consumer understanding and the challenges of communication planning within an ultra-rich media environment.

Theresa Treutler, formerly SVP/media director at Toronto-based Doner Canada, is now president/CEO of the Television Bureau of Canada (ttreutler@tvb.ca).