The introduction of the television is among the handful of inventions that truly shaped our society forever. Since its first establishment in the 20th century the device has evolved throughout time ultimately changing the way we perceive it and even the way we use it. Recently, it has been reported that traditional TV viewing has declined over the past several years. It has been found that through the introduction of other advanced technologies such as on-demand services, streaming services and piracy, people are steering away from Free-TV. These new platforms have also introduced better availability and accessibility. No longer is an actual television needed but instead TV and films can be just as easily accessed through a smartphone, laptop, computer or tablet. Furthermore, it has become apparent that watching through these devices is making the activity more isolated than ever before. In the past the concept of the television was a shared family hobby yet through recent studies viewers prefer to watch from the comfort of their own bed through their laptop further challenging the notion of the television and even the existence of a living room. Overall, this digital project aims to investigate the influences of declining traditional television viewing and the shift from a family activity to an isolated hobby. The use of surveys, articles, reports and academic sources will be used throughout.
Earlier this year, it was found that Australia’s traditional television prime-time audiences are down almost 5% amid competition from internet streaming services (Dominic White, 2016). Services such as Netflix, Stan and YouTube are reportedly putting major pressure on free-to-air and cable television. It was also discovered that among the youth demographic, 16-39 year olds, as a tradition television audience they have dropped down 14.8%. This was also reviewed just after the introduction of three new free TV channels- SBS Food, 9Life and 7Flix. The two major streaming services Netflix and Stan were both introduced to the Australia market in 2015, now in 2016 it’s been estimated that over 60,000 people a night are watching Netflix instead of traditional television and 30,000 watching Stan. However, in saying this the decrease of traditional TV viewers can be seen as rapidly declining since the year 2011 (Marketing Charts, 2016). Between 2011 and 2016, the audience consisting of 18-24 years olds has dropped by more than 9 hours per week and more than 1.5 hours a day, overall falling a massive 38% since 2011. Ultimately, 18-24 year olds have dropped from watching TV 26 hours a week down to just 17 hours. This basically means that this age group has migrated to other activities and hobbies, most likely due to the introduction of other technologies. An article by the Telegraph, written in 2014, found that because of the increasing entertainment options, including the increase in smartphone and tablet ownership, the younger generation are deserting the living room television experience and are instead isolating themselves gaining a one-on-one experience with these devices (Christopher Williams, 2014). Not only has the accessibility of mobile streaming services and other internet based activities caused the decrease in television viewing but have also impacted the way individuals experience TV in the first place. The concept of the living room and family watching is rapidly decreasing where the younger age group are instead choosing to watch shows and movies on their own. Another source compiled a list of interesting findings in regards to the idea that Australians are switching their TV watching to tablets and smartphones. Gizmodo discovered the majority of Australians say that watching TV is their number one activity, however, not necessarily through a TV screen (Campbell Simpson, 2014). From 2011 to 2014 the usage of the internet has been climbing the ranks where nearly half of viewers watch their shows through downloading or streaming online. A more recent 2016 study found that of the younger generation (18-24 year olds) 40.6% do not watch TV or films through a television device (Think TV, 2016). Instead 23% watch through a laptop/ computer, 12.8% through a smartphone and 4.8% through a tablet. This increasing statistic not only supports the argument that traditional television viewing is declining but also that the experience of the television in general is transitioning from a family activity to an isolated hobby.
In addition to these sources a survey was conducted in order to gain information on a sample size of the population to find their television preferences. The website Survey Monkey was utilised in order to determine how people watch television nowadays. The data was collected from people categorised into four age groups, 18-24, 25-34, 35-44 and 45+. Overall there were 55 participants that completed the ten questions.
The questions asked were designed to gain insight into the participants favoured activities and how they perceive/ experience the television. The third question was asking the participants about the hobby/ activity that takes up most of their time. Out of the responses ‘watching TV’ was the third most popular. A total of 6 people answered TV, whereas 11 answered sport and 12 answered internet. It became quite clear that technologies such as laptops, computers, tablets and smartphones take up majority of people’s time, once again steering them away from the traditional TV. The other answers included reading, writing, sleeping, studying, working, video games, beach and shopping.
The fourth question asked how often do these individuals watch television. A total of 30 responders answered everyday, 19 answered a couple times a week and 5 people answered rarely. Although, it was found out of the thirty that answered everyday, ten participants were over the age of 25 and all the people who answered rarely were under 25. This question supported the argument that older generations watch television more often than the younger generation.
‘What is your favourite genre of television’ was a question asked to engage participants by asking them a more personal question. Majority of the answers were comedy followed by drama, science-fiction and crime.
Another question that was asked, was ‘How do you define the term watching television?’. This question was placed in the survey to help clarify what people believe this term stands for in their own personal way. These were the results:
To carry on from the following question it seemed appropriate to ask what streaming services the participants are subscribed to. Netflix was the most popular with 39 subscribed, 4 subscribed to Stan, 3 subscribed to Foxtel and 13 are not subscribed to anything at all.
Further examining the idea that watching television has become an isolated hobby, the question ‘Who do you watch television with most often?’ was asked. It was found that 26 participants answered ‘by yourself’, and was later found that only three of these were people aged over 25 years old. This also supports the idea that the younger generation are increasingly experiencing the activity alone.
Continuing on from the last question it was asked if responders would rather watch television on their own or with others. This was to consider that although they may watch it alone they do not necessarily want to. This was found to be the case as 29 of the participants answered ‘with others’.
The last question asked was to call upon each individual’s own opinion on whether they believe traditional television is declining. It was not surprising that a large 47 participants believed it was.
The survey can be found here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/YDNP6KS
This survey was conducted to explore the idea that watching television has shifted from a family activity to an isolated hobby. It also supported the argument, that was held up by a series of sources included above, that traditional television viewing is declining.
The television is a device that has truly shaped our society forever, however, with the introduction of new technologies such as on-demand services, streaming services and piracy people are steering away from traditional television viewing. The use of devices such as smartphones, laptops, computers and tablets, the concept of the television may be soon outdated. Through online resources and a conducted survey it was found that the younger generation, aged between 18-25 year olds, are finding themselves watching TV shows and films on their own through these devices. This further challenges the concept of the television and how it is experienced. This digital project report has examined the transition of the television from a family activity to an isolated hobby as well as the decline of what we soon may no longer call ‘traditional’ television.
White, D, 2016, TV audiences tumble as Netflix kicks in, The Sydney Morning Herald, viewed 28 September 2016
Marketing Charts staff, 2016, The state of traditional TV: Q2 2016 update, Marketing Charts, viewed 28 September 2016
Williams, C, 2014, How young viewers are abandoning television, The telegraph, viewed 28 September 2016
Simpson, C, 2014, Australians are switching their TV watching to tablets and smartphones, Gizmodo, viewed 30 September 2016