Television’s Cracked Screen

We admit it. Spot-On is a little hung up on the TV business.

Last year we probably – oh, let’s not mince words, we definitely – spent a little too much time saying that Aero, the now defunct service that put a TV signal on your laptop, was more of a threat than it turned out to be. But our sense about changes in the TV business wasn’t misplaced. Even with Aero out of business, it’s crystal clear that television viewership just isn’t what it used to be.

If you’re in the political ad business, it’s probably worth paying attention to these fights:

– Late last year, TV executives and ad agencies started arguing about getting paid for recorded TV shows. Why? TV people don’t think they’re getting paid enough.

– This year at the big confab held every year in LA by researchers – the folks who set ad rates and look at audience measurement – broadcasters conceded that they’re loosing ground – fast.

– Netflix gets much of the blame for the decline in TV watching. But that’s not the only contributor. 60% of all US households have a recording device. And 60% of the folks with those devices fast-forward through ads. Translation: Less than half the ads on television are seen live.

Speaking of Netfflix, it just reported earnings. There are about 40 million Netflix subscribers in the U.S. There are just about 115 million television households. No, we won’t tell anyone if you go buy the stock. Promise.

For those of you who like what Silicon Valley calls a “deep dive”, here’s a very long piece from the New Yorker about Reed Hasting, CEO of Netflix which has some statistics on television ad buying from late last year. It offers up roughly the same stats: 60% of all television ads aren’t seen. Ever.

Which all adds up to this piece from The Washington Post’s Dan Balz about how political ad placements needs to change.

And by way of background, we are compelled to cite this prescient 2013 column from the late NYTImes media columnist Dave Carr. “More Cracks Undermine the Citadel of TV Profits.” Have a read and see how right he was.

We’ll keep tracking these trends and a few others we’ve, um, spotted. As always, please feel free to hit the “unsubscribe” button below. But if you’re hanging around, feel free to join us in obsessively tracking the TV business (and other things) on Twitter. Or you can hang with us on Facebook, too.