Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Vilification of Leisure: Death of the TV

There are a few major consequences with the vilification of home leisure activities

1. Growth of share of mind-time for new activities

We all have only 24 hours a day, and this is the amount of time that things can occupy our minds. In the past where there are only TVs, radios and print, we spend our mind-time on these things. In fact the world probably spends 80% of home leisure time watching TV during the 2nd half of the 20th century. However as we move to the 21st century, we are spending our mind-time differently.

Internet, Facebook, iPhone, iPad, Youtube, Gaming (Xbox, Wii, PS3, DS, PSP), Blogging, Twittering etc. Some youngster completely stopped watching TV since they can watch it on the internet. No doubt TV is still big. It is still the major portion of global advertising revenue and is likely to be so for some time. But the winds of change are blowing. TV as a % of our mind-time is dropping and will continue to do so until it is just another form of media in a whole spectrum of others.

2. Ad spending to traditional media to fall

The revenue sources for most media comes from advertising, sale of content and subscription, with advertising usually making the bulk of the money. As mentioned, TV has dominated that total media ad spending for the 2nd half of the 20th century as it has the widest reach as compared to print, radio, outdoor or other forms of advertising. This makes the absolute dollar amount huge, like $100,000 to $300,000 for a 30 sec TV commercial in the US, and in tune of millions for high-profile programs like Superbowl, but the cost per 1,000 impression (CPM) is actually comparable to other forms of advertising at $10-30 CPM. This means that even though a company spends $300,000 on a TV commercial, it reaches 15mn viewers in that 30 sec, while other forms of media probably reach only 1/10 or even 1/100 of that no. of viewers.

Now the total ad spending over the long run can only grow with the global economy or perhaps slightly faster. With more and more people spending time on Facebook and other internet sites, traditional media CPM has to come down. Maybe from $10-30 to $6-20 or something. This means that ad spending on TV and other traditional media will be a smaller % of the global ad pie. While blogs, Youtube, Facebook and iTunes grow to take their places.

3. Consumer leisure dollar gets vilified

Another form of impact of the Vilification of Leisure affects the consumer leisure dollar. Before the explosion of these 21st century leisure activities (ie Facebook, apps, Youtube etc), the consumer leisure dollar for the masses is actually pretty limited. There is Hollywood, ie going to the movies. Buying CDs and DVDs, buying games for Wii, Xbox. Pay TV or cable and maybe some magazine or radio subscription. And that's about it! Well we are not going to explore leisure dollar into hobbies like photography, collecting comics, going for concerts etc though.

So with the Vilification of Leisure, the leisure dollar now gets spread over thinly to buying apps, buying items for your avatar in some online game, downloading songs, buying e-books not to mention buying newer and newer devices like iPad, Kindle, netbooks, PSP, the new DS, iPhone 4 etc.

Now the total leisure dollar that can be spent has a limit. Just a wild guess, it's perhaps $200-300 per month per person in developed countries. It is not going to double unless global GDP doubles. So this means that what was used to pay Hollywood, cable TV, games etc now needs to spread to all these new gimmicks. Of course, these new gimmicks enjoy spectacular growth since they start from zero. Like apps, it was nothing 2 years ago. Now it's a billion dollar industry. But it would be wrong to assume that it can be a $10bn industry in 3 years bcos the leisure dollar can only stretch so far. This goes for social online games, songs, online subscription whatever.

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So there you have it, Vilification of Leisure will hit us strong and we should be aware of its various impact. In short, a slow death for TV and a quick growth and plateauing for a lot of these new entrants.

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