Last week Newsweek published an article by Kevin Maney titled, “Broadcast Television Is About to Go the Way of AM Radio.” It’s interesting because about a year or so ago I had a Twitter conversation with someone in local news who was adamant that I was wrong when I said local news needed to evaluate how it delivered its product considering the increase in digital ads and use. Her final tweet to me was something to the effect of, “It’s amazing how you can knock an industry that so many of us work in.” (For the record, my husband still works in a local news-type newsroom.)Maney did a wonderful job outlining the history of television and its growth. But I’m not sure I completely agree that it’s going the way of AM radio. He cites how there’s time-shifting for viewing, that people are watching shows and movies on portable devices that have better screens that traditional televisions, and video providers like Netflix and YouTube get more precise data about their users.
All of this is true. However, there are still some strengths that broadcast television has. For instance, live events. Think Super Bowl; think American Idol; think Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. These are not the type of events that you’re going to record and watch some other time. Networks are not going to offer them on demand. And yes, you could watch them on a mobile device, but you still have to access it through a network or cable provider.
Also, breaking news. Yes, people go to websites for headlines, but they also turn on their televisions to see moving images, hear anchors and reporters on the scene, and feel as though they are part of it. This was part of what I tried to convey in the Twitter conversation so long ago – broadcast news has a place, it just needs to figure out how to draw in the people from the internet.
I don’t ever claim to have the answers, but I’m also not one to say a medium is dead just because another has been introduced. We still have newspapers, we still have radios, and, for the time being, we still have televisions.