Sea change in television as viewers flock to digital

Cable and broadcast networks are feeling the effects of their viewers’ growing digital migratory patterns and taking steps to plan for the future.

Variety reported that most of the top entertainment-focused cable channels have experienced large ratings declines this year, especially in the key A18-49, C3 numbers that they have been proselytizing to advertisers for the last several years.

It’s not just the typical ups and downs in viewing cycles that the industry generally sees, either. Ad Age reported that a sea change in viewing patterns is affecting both cable and broadcast networks, driven by younger audience movement (particularly younger women) to over-the-top, digital platforms.

As recent news indicates, the networks are no longer taking this lying down. They are re-trenching, re-focusing and re-inventing themselves for their digital future.

Programmers are making shifts to fortify their businesses given the changing audience habits, as well as rising programming costs. According to the Variety article, many cable networks, for example, are now concentrating their program development efforts and investments on series that stand the best chance of future success with SVOD licensing deals and the burgeoning world of technology-driven personalized viewing. Think binge-viewing worthy and super-fan friendly shows that have singular appeal across platforms and global markets.

Looking ahead, one can expect to see networks taking a page from their digital competitors’ playbooks by focusing more and more on big data and predictive technologies. Honing both their programming development strategies and audience targeting methods in this manner will go a long way in helping them ride the waves of digital change.