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Published on 1 Mar 2018

We have years of experience in the media and broadcast fields, working closely with our customers to launch their TV channels (among many other things). We have heard for some time that traditional TV is dead, but to what extend is this true? Is TV dead, alive, or born again?

A brief TV history lesson

The Queen's MessengerThree inch early television receiver

When did TV start? In 1907 two separate inventors first used a cathode ray tube. Now we all know, if we work in media, that content is king. So, what was that initial content? The Queen’s Messenger in 1928 was the first in the US. But what about the TV advertising? On the 1st of July 1941, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) allowed stations to broadcast advertisements!

At that time, and for the next seven years, TV was broadcast-only. Then in 1948, cable TV appeared in the US. Many years later satellite TV joined the game in 1976! IPTV entered the fray in 1998 followed by OTT video in 2008 (though you could argue YouTube was already a form of OTT, but let’s keep that for another article).

When did people start talking about the death of television?

Bringing things closer to the present, since the internet began to resemble its current form, the first reference we found is 24 March 2006 on a personal blog with an article “TV is dead, long live TV”. The author stated that traditional TV is so 20th century, largely because of YouTube (created on the 14th of February 2005).

So traditional TV has been unofficially “dead” for more than 11 years. But has it come to a grinding halt? No.

TV dies every year

According to Wired from 2007 “traditional TV” is dead as we move to digital (remember that TV was of course analog.) And we have the first real prediction:
“Traditional TV won’t be here in seven to ten years,” says Kim Moses, co-producer of CBS’ popular Ghost Whisperer, who had just launched a short-form version of her own show online. “It’s changing so fast that I don’t know if it’s even going to be that long.”

Going through that article 11 years later is an interesting experience: it is accurately wrong. Many of the predictions have happened and we’re still considering many of the same issues.

Let’s move forward: the funny thing is, as we’ve noted, the debate about TV being dead or not dead started over a decade ago as Day Rayburn says TV is not dead.

Then in June 2010, Videomaker said TV is dead again. Most of the predictions in this article came true except the one that states: “I can’t wait until the traditional distribution business is killed off by the internet”. Well, the internet shook a lot of companies and people, but linear TV dead? Not quite yet.

A year later it was written that, TV is dead because newspapers will become TV, with Guardian TV for example. Well, the use of video is more widespread than ever but we can’t say that Forbes TV has killed Disney, can we?

Appointment TV is dead

TV dies every year

With the rise of on-demand and social TV, TV is going to kill appointment TV. I have to confess I was one of those guys that said this.

On the other hand, at that time – 2012 – many articles tried to prove that no matter what, TV was still bringing in a lot of revenue. There was even a blog named TV Is Not Dead.

Cord cutting should have killed TV

Industry-watchers have invented new phrases that refer to the change in traditional TV watching, such as cord cutting.

All the while, people have continued to question whether TV is, indeed, dead.

If YouTube doesn’t kill TV, Twitter or Facebook will

One of the recurrent explanations has been YouTube will kill TV. And we have to admit that it tried, or pretended to, launching roughly every six months the definitive TV app or TV bouquet
but well…

Is TV now reborn?

While many continue the hunt for traditional TV’s corpse, overall there’s been a change in tone:

“TV is dead but maybe we don’t have the same understanding of dead, and maybe even of TV”.

The argument is really about money, because, yes, traditional TV can still be profitable: traditional ads are still huge. The SuperBowl ad prices have not exactly gone down.

There have been a lot of articles trying to prove TV is still in the game. We cannot help but wonder if the numbers are correct or if it’s due to bias because we know for a fact that viewing habits have drastically changed in the past ten years.

And then, a few months ago, we saw this great article about TV. A different approach, a different view to TV. And it brings a lot of value and a lot of proofs that TV is still alive.

So, is TV dead or not? Maybe a better question is: for whom is it dead? Second question: where is the money? And in that respect, TV might have died, been reborn and then died again, but yet for many the strong revenues are still there. And we’ll keep working for media organizations and broadcasters, across TV, OTT, VOD, live streaming; as long as there’s video involved, we’ll be here to help.

Tip: don’t use the tagline “TV is dead, long live TV”, it was overused even before color happened.