The Work of TV in the Age of Niche Interests

The other day, the CFO of a major German ad agency claimed in the Handelsblatt, Germany’s biggest business newspaper, that television was far from being dead. Among other shows she listed the Netflix production House of Cards as a sign of the current TV “renaissance”. Apart from the fact that an on-demand Internet streaming media service isn’t really television the claim shows how difficult it is for traditional advertisers to come to terms with the recent changes in mass media. We have compiled the four main reasons why TV usage, in our opinion, did change dramatically.

1. New technologies: Netflix is actually one of the best examples of the new on-demand mentality for media consumption. Fuelled by video platforms like Youtube and legal (and illegal) streaming websites, consumers have adopted a different way to consume video content.

[t]he young and early adopters have moved much faster from traditional to digital and we would therefore conclude that that transformation is likely to accelerate.

Quote from: YouGov/The Guardian: Changing Media Summit Report

As the Ericsson ConsumerLab TV and Media Report shows, the majority of people who watch on-demand video don’t watch their own pre-recorded TV program but uses dedicated file-sharing or streaming services. This doesn’t mean that TV is out of fashion, but the media landscape gets increasingly fragmented. You want to spend all your marketing budget on TV ads? Maybe not such a great idea anymore…

The Tastemade Network

2. Niche interests: 30 years ago, the TV program had to cater to a mainstream audience, or else it would have been in trouble. With the advent of cable television, a lot of special interest programs like the Discovery Channel or the Food Network became increasingly popular. In a digital environment, content can spread globally and find even a niche audience. On a recent article on PSFK, you can read all about this trend and what it means for today’s TV audience. Again, it will not forsake television alltogether. Rather, the audience becomes “bi-polar”, in that it will yearn both TV shows with a mainstream appeal and watch that raw-vegan-food-show online.

3. User-generated content: One of the prime examples in the PSFK report is Tastemade, which is both – a niche media offering and through its proprietary app a hub for user-generated content. What is UGC? It is all types of content from (non-professional) people with their only motivation to add their opinion to the many opinions out there. The interesting fact about this: Young people (aka Millennials) are really into UGC. A recent Crowdtap study revealed this (quote taken from an article on

Millennials trust UGC just as much as professional reviews. UGC is also 20% more influential when it comes to purchasing and 35% more memorable than other types of media. You can chalk that up to the fact that millennials spend five hours per day with UGC.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that Millennials won’t watch the news or a game show on TV, but it would be foolish to think that TV can survive on a diet of UGC – when Youtube et al. already do a superior job offering this – on demand, mind you.

4. Use of a second screen: People love to use interactive devices when consuming “linear” content. This is so well-documented, it has become a Wikipedia entry. Maybe it is a good idea to think about more interactive concepts to reach your audience: Even if they have their TV sets switched on, they don’t devote much of their attention to it.

Let’s return to the Handelsblatt article: The aforementioned CFO concluded that TV remains the “most effective type of media”, whatever that means. It should be no revelation that the most effective way for brands to reach their audience is creating a positive customer journey across all channels and at all contact points. TV is definitely one of those channels, but so is digital from streaming services to phone apps, to the world of retail, events, promotions and many others.

Photo credit: SweetOnVeg/Flickr CC