Prevailing wisdom would have you believe that Netflix, and peers like Amazon Prime and Hulu, are doing something similar to TV — crushing an industry built over nearly a century without even raising a boot.
In America, they call it “cord-cutting,” where pay-TV customers cancel their cable subscriptions because their viewing needs are being satisfied online. A record 782,000 customers severed wires in the first three months of 2017, according to research firm Moffett Nathanson.
And who can blame them? Netflix is storming it at the moment. Shares in the company rocketed this week after it added 5.2 million streaming subscribers in the second quarter, way higher than the 3.2 million expected by Wall Street.
But the idea that Netflix, or any other online video service, is going to kill TV anytime soon is madness. Recently released research by Britain’s media watchdog, Ofcom, backs up my theory. Let me walk you through two slides that tell you everything about television’s continued potency.
First, here’s how Brits are dividing their time between watching live TV, recorded shows on their television boxes, and services like Netflix and Amazon.
Ninety-two percent of TV is still watched live or recorded by British viewers.
Online viewing has crept up six percentage points over the six years captured above. But based on this rate of growth, it will be another four decades before it achieves parity with traditional telly consumption. Another 92 if it is going to kill TV. That’s basically how long ago the TV was invented.
Up next, this chart shows how long people are sat in front of the TV on a daily basis.
Check out the line for adults aged over four years old, or “Individuals” as they are listed in the Ofcom graph. It has barely budged in a decade. And as for older viewers, they’re watching way more TV than they were in 2006. Nearly an hour more a day, in fact.
There is clearly a downward drift among viewers under the age of 44, particularly among millennials (25 to 34 year olds). But this is not the catastrophic picture some would have you believe.
Even 16 to 24 year olds are still watching nearly two hours of television a day — only 40 minutes less than a decade ago. Based on this rate of decline, it will be nearly 30 years before tech-savvy teens completely eradicate TV from their media diet.
TV is not about to fold in on itself anytime soon.