It seems hard to believe it now, but once there was a time when 28 million people watched a Morecambe and Wise Christmas show. At the time, back in 1977, that was almost 50% of the population. Today, traditional broadcast media can only dream about achieving these kinds of figures.
In fact, we have changed the way we get our entertainment so much that it raises the question of whether traditional broadcast TV has much of a future at all. Recent figures have revealed that today, on average, Britons watch less than three hours worth of broadcast TV a day, 20% less than in 2020 and 5% less than in 2019. For 16-24-year-olds, the figure of 1 hour 52 minutes a day represents a fall of 68% from 2011.
So some are now questioning what the role might be for traditional broadcasting. Put in the wider context of the BBC’s charter, up for renewal in 2027, and questions about whether the corporation can continue to justify its licence fee, it does seem a little uncertain not just for the publically funded channel, but for commercial ones too.
There are multiple reasons for this sea-change in the nation’s viewing habits and the first of these is the phenomenal growth of streaming services led by Netflix and subsequently joined by others like Amazon Prime, Disney + and Apple TV.
By using a subscription model these new channels have found themselves with budgets that are of a size that traditional broadcasters can only dream of. Netflix, in particular, has also gained a reputation for offering more creative freedom to programme and movie-makers which is designed to create more appealing content.
Then there’s the question of viewer-generated content that is especially popular among younger demographics. This ranges from videos on YouTube and TikTok to watching eSports and other gamers on platforms like Twitch. Many comedians have also taken to the latter as a way to develop an even wider fan base than they can reach through more traditional channels. Plus, there are no commissioning editors or studio execs who need to be sold on them first.
Finally, there are countless other forms of entertainment that now compete for people’s valuable time and attention. These range from the playing of video games, many of which have the complexity and narrative drive of a TV show or movie to the highly popular world of online casino gaming.
Today there is an almost limitless choice of places to play slots and other popular casino games from the comfort of one’s own sofa. This isn’t just a UK phenomenon either as these sites are proliferating worldwide. That’s why now there are websites listing the best ones available in Italy and other nations. These outline where players can enjoy live-streamed casino games with real dealers, as well as bonuses and offers available just for signing up.
So times are indeed looking quite tough for traditional broadcast TV. Whether it will prove to be flexible and nimble enough to ride out the storm only time will tell – but it’s certainly set to face a very different entertainment landscape in the future.
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