Arif Durrani, head of media at Campaign, editor of Media Week
Arif Durrani, head of media at Campaign, editor of Media Week
A view from Arif Durrani

Reports of TV's death have been exaggerated... again

The world's love affair with TV may be coming to an end, and this time it's almost certain. The pronouncement came from no less a source than the global management consultancy Accenture.

The cause of death for traditional telly, apparently, will be none other than its biggest nemesis, digital video consumption, and the arrival of any time, anywhere viewing.

In our digitally connected, instantly downloadable and boxset-oriented world, it’s a prognosis that many have foreseen. According to the Accenture study, viewership for long-form video content, such as films and television shows, on a TV screen is found to have declined by 13 per cent globally over the past year alone, while sports viewership on TV screens decreased by 10 per cent.

"We are seeing a definitive pendulum shift away from traditional TV viewing," Gavin Mann, Accenture’s global broadcast industry lead, declares.

So is it the end for anyone working in traditional TV? Perhaps not. Turns out there’s slightly more to it than that and those pesky kids at Thinkbox have been quick to spoil our end-of-days party – yet again.

'The cause of death for traditional telly, apparently, will be its biggest nemesis, digital video consumption'

While recognising that TV viewing is certainly changing, Thinkbox rubbishes the study for being "very misleading", "vastly inflated" and containing "flawed or confusing figures". It seems Accenture’s online survey starts from an unrepresentative sample (20 per cent of the UK isn’t even online; a similar figure will be true in other countries) who volunteer what they think they do, which is then published as fact.

The data produced from this sample is not as robust as you would hope either, with the drops in viewership calculated by asking people what their preferred device is when accessing digital content. So it has conflated viewership with device preference, Thinkbox notes in disbelief. It has given an answer when it hasn’t even asked the question.

Meanwhile, back in the land of established metrics, Barb puts the average amount of time spent using TV sets (including gaming and the like) per person per day in the second half of 2014 at four hours and 14 minutes. It’s actually up on the four hours and ten minutes reported for the same period a year earlier.

The Accenture report also claims that the frequency of accessing digital content on a TV set has declined by 33 per cent for 14- to 17-year-olds. Thinkbox suggests the UK drop is actually 1.7 per cent.

But why would a company as revered as Accenture take such a tabloid approach? Genuine oversight, perhaps, or could it be that there’s a pretty penny to be made in stoking fears of a sector on the precipice? The eve of Armageddon is a great time to invest in your future.