A gradual shift in TV consumption patterns in the last 10 years has resulted in an aging broadcast TV audience. In this first installment, Jimmy Arteaga from Wapa TV shares his views on the matter with ttv.
Aging broadcast TV audiences aren’t a new concept but the process has certainly sped up during the last few years. A study by Julio Larrañaga Rubio from the Complutense University of Madrid from 2007 was already alerting the market of a downward trend in number of 20-24 year-old broadcast TV viewers, dropping almost 28%. Meanwhile, the study also showed that viewers aged 35-44 years old had increased 12%.
Across the ocean, Chilean researcher Valerio Fuenzalida reports the same behavior among Latin American audiences. Even in the US -where television continues to be in good shape- there’s data that also confirms this trend.
Jimmy Arteaga Grustein is VP of promotions and programming at Wapa, one of Puerto Rico’s audience leaders among broadcast TV stations. “Television is facing increased competition from collateral platforms,” he says about this. According to the executive, the most important platform affecting broadcast TV ratings is the internet, with cable TV following right behind. “Cable TV penetration through theme channels has deeply affected broadcast TV, especially capturing young and kid audiences,” he says. Arteaga considers that the internet has “kidnapped” young and middle-aged adults, recalling that “a PEW report says that last year over 50% of daily users preferred the internet and, for the first time, ad sales there surpassed print media billings.”
So how do broadcasters fight against this trend? “It is very hard,” Arteaga admits. “What TV channels should do is produce local TV content aimed at specific targets” in order to attract young viewers back to broadcast television, where local productions are plentiful. This is mostly the case across all of Latin America, “except in the US and Argentina where there are local cable channels,” the executive says. “Broadcast TV cannot afford to lose its already-captive audience.”
In this line, Arteaga believes that broadcast TV’s best attribute is local information, since this “appeals to everyone and especially those aged 18 to 49 years old. News shows are the perfect way to generate viewer loyalty to the channel and its content,” he says.
The final question focuses on suitable strategies to face today’s market. The executive was emphatic about the fact that the only way broadcast TV can survive among a growing pay TV offer is “accepting and coming across the idea that the internet is not a competitor to broadcast TV but a tool that should be used to attract potential viewers,” he says. “Channels should use their news shows not only to inform but to promote original production with behind-the-scenes footage, show highlights, etc.”