Television and streaming have blurred to the extent that audiences no longer conceive of TV or radio in old-fashioned terms. That means content owners and broadcasters need a rethink too.
Research into the media consumption habits of Americans by Futuri, in conjunction with analysis firm SmithGeiger, reveals that the perception of media has already changed. Formerly well-established concepts such as “TV” and “radio” no longer exist as they once did.
“Instead, we have a continuum of professional and semi-professional content delivered through innumerable routes to the end consumer, who is, as a result, more selective and less trusting of the major players who used to dominate the field,” the company reports.
Futuri’s Future of Audience and Revenue Study found that consumers now interpret the term “television” to mean all forms of video, from standard live television to streamed events, video posts on social media, and, of course, YouTube. The same expanded definition applied to radio, which now refers to any form of transmitted audio over any channel.
“Attempting to fight the new media platforms is a lost endeavor,” the report said. “They are no longer the ‘alternative’ but are quickly becoming the new mainstream.”
For radio broadcasters, local content is key, the report advises. Listeners see local as a differentiator, and want more of it.
“Consumers are becoming more willing to pay for local information from digital publishers, and they’re already willing to pay for audio and video subscriptions. Radio needs to lean into local content — even if not produced locally — to stay competitive and grow.”
The report also suggests that, like radio, TV morning shows in particular have the potential to make greater use of Facebook and Instagram as part of their broader video content strategy in order to capture the audience’s first views and interactions of the day.
There’s even this warning: “With more consumers getting their news from social platforms and the rise of user-generated content, traditional ways of delivering the news can feel inauthentic.”
That’s because, per the report, consumer trust in news media has reached new lows. Americans are increasingly putting their faith in social media to source pandemic-related updates.
Some 64% of Americans reach for Facebook for pandemic related news, YouTube (61%) and other social platforms (TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram) 48%. That’s in contrast to conventional outlets (CBS, CNN, NBC, ABC, PBS, FOX, MSNBC and Newsmax), which were the go-to source for respondents only 31-52% of the time.
In general, the survey found that a majority of Americans do not trust major TV outlets, with credibility scores ranging from 30-47%. This decreased further among young Americans to 23-34%. Instead, they are turning to social media for news, including 47% to Google, followed by Facebook (42%), YouTube (33%), and Instagram and Twitter (both 28%). National newspaper websites such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today capture only 19% of Americans.
“The broader canvas is one of profound societal and technological change, complicated by an intergenerational handover that is eroding the certainties on which business models and revenue streams have been based for decades,” the report states.
Meanwhile, media executives are concerned that they do not have the data-driven sales research and marketing pitches to keep up with digital-first competitors. Content leaders are struggling with downsizing at a time when both quantity and quality of content has never been more important. The report states that 88% of media executives agree attracting and retaining talent is a priority, but only 56% feel confident in the industry’s ability to do it. Similarly, 85% agree it’s important to attract younger audiences, but only 47% feel confident in the industry’s ability to do so.
And everyone is worried about their company’s ability to keep up with emerging technologies like 5G.
“This study reveals tectonic shifts in how media is being produced, perceived, consumed and purchased across all levels of society and media, from streaming to TV, social media, digital publishing, radio and more,” said Futuri Media CEO Daniel Anstandig. “The message is very clear to media executives: now is the time to accelerate innovation to keep pace with media’s evolution, or risk being left behind.”