7 Reasons Why TV Will Be in Serious Trouble in 2015

TV isn't going anywhere anytime soon, but 2014 was a very tough year for traditional networks, and 2015 isn't looking any brighter at all. In fact, the next 12 months will likely prove to be an extremely trying time for live television, here's why.

1. TV viewership is continuing to fall.

A study conducted by CBS revealed that TV viewership was down a full 3% in 2014. A separate Nielson report showed a 4.4% drop.

That might not sound like a lot, but it represents millions and millions of potential viewers who are now tuning in to services like Netflix for their entertainment. CBS researchers found that on average, just having Netflix access in your household resulted in significantly less traditional TV watching.

This live TV exodus is happening across the board across all demographics. Millennials (age 18-24) watched a massive 14% less TV this year, and even the oldest viewers tracked by a Magna Global report (55-64) watched 3% less.

Not even live sports are safe, with NFL viewership down across all networks some 10-19%.

2. Ad revenue is about to drop for the first time.

A forecast released by WPP's GroupM advertising firm predicts that traditional TV's share of the total ad market will fall for the first time ever in 2015. Not only are more and more viewers opting for Netflix over traditional broadcasting, but even those still watching TV are increasingly skipping commercials with their DVRs.

This is bad news for networks obviously, but it's also not great for viewers. With less ad revenue, networks are going to opt for cheaper programming (even more reality shows?), fewer gambles with their new series, and more embedded advertising and product placements to offset the lost income.

None of those are likely going to lead to better original programming, which just further opens the door for online services like Netflix and Amazon Prime to swoop in and steal that thunder.

3. For some reason, TV networks are completely unprepared for this.

The writing's been on the wall for forever now, but for some reason, TV executives are refusing to acknowledge it. At the beginning of 2014, CBS predicted that not only would ad revenue not drop, but it would increase by 4%. Well then.

Think they learned their lesson? Nope. CBS is now predicting that in 2015, ad revenue will increase by 2%. I guess you can't teach an old dog new tricks after all.

4. Fewer and fewer people are actually watching TV on a TV.

This year, Nielson reported that TV watching through computer or mobile device is increasing, with digital video overall rising 60% compared to 2013. Additionally, 2.6 million homes are now without a cable subscription or broadband signal, over double last year's figure.

That means fewer and fewer people are actually checking in to watch new episodes of shows when they air, making it increasingly difficult for networks to attract high-paying advertisers for these lucrative timeslots.


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Ryan Matsunaga's picture
Ryan is the head blogger at 8CN. He really likes pancakes. You can follow him on Twitter @RyanMatsu
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