If only print could be more like TV in trying to be more like the ‘Net

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An interesting bit of information from the TV world:

The new Jay Leno Show is particularly successful in one area: reduction time-shifting – which is the practice of watching a show at a time other then when it airs – basically through TiVo or other recording devices.

Last year, according to a report in MediaBuyerPlanner, which cites TiVo as its source, 70 percent of viewers watched NBC’s 10 p.m. programming on a time-shifted basis; only 30 percent watched it live.

The good news is that’s improved to about 50 percent watching it live and 50 percent recording it to watch later. What’s amazing to me is that half the audience basically refuses to watch the show on the network’s terms. Given the technology, consumers are telling television insiders exactly what they want and how/when they want to watch it.

That’s not to say the networks are responding like champions. But I have to say, subjectively, that bumping even a couple reality shows in favor of a talk-entertainment show like Leno’s is a step in the right direction. And maybe that’s what the audience is responding to; perhaps the reduction in time-shifting basically means, “If you give me something worth watching it, I’m more likely to watch it when you air it.”

With a blog that’s so heavily dominated by print-to-internet trends, why do I think this is worth noting?

Because it points out a huge difference between what’s happening in print media vs. broadcast. Both are struggling to keep up with the change brought on by online technologies, they’re being impacted from opposite directions.

TV is losing its audience to other activities, and has had to fight and innovate to earn every viewer that it gets. Then it can turn around and sell its successes to advertisers. This is a healthy business model.

Print media, on the other hand, isn’t being pushed by its readers – who have largely made it clear that they prefer a print product. Otherwise, readers might pay for online content; and they would certainly ask for digital editions of their favorite magazines. And if that were the case, there wouldn’t be a problem. Readers would get the product they want, advertisers would know exactly how many people see and respond to their ads, and publishers would be able to cut the Three P’s that represent the largest cost of doing business: production, printing and postage.

The problem for print is that it’s being pushed by the other end: the advertisers, who demand better accountability for the impact of the money they spend. Because you can’t measure the impact of print media as simply or directly as online media, advertisers are draining their print spend in favor of an online spend. So magazines keep trying to come up with online products, and readers are yawning.

In the end, the trouble for print is that it’s not yet figured out how to give both the audience and advertisers what they want. And it’s responding to the advertisers first. And each time, readers yawn and the medium loses more credibility with advertisers.

That’s not a healthy business model.


About the Author:

Bob Rosenbaum is founder and principal of The MarketFarm, a content-oriented strategic communications firm.

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