SMC logo UPDATE

I’m Going On A Media Diet

I’m a media consumer — and have been for a very long time.

I’ve been consuming television, news, movies, and music, paying what I always thought was a pretty generous spend. I’m hardly a media pincher. And yet, as more and more media platforms have their hand out, I find myself pulling away.

My math goes like this: “Just $5 a month! Whew, that’s $5 x 12, which equals a $60 annual subscription. I’ll pass.”

It turns out I may not be alone.

PwC tracks media spending, and its projections are not optimistic. “For the entertainment and media industries, 2022 marked an important inflection point. Total global entertainment and media (E&M) revenue rose 5.4% in 2022, to US$2.32 trillion,” reported PwC in its Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2023–2027, released this summer. A raise of 5% is anemic — and the future is even bleaker. “In each of the next five years, the rate of growth will decline sequentially, so that by 2027 revenue will grow just 2.8% from 2026.”

So why has our media-hungry society been going on a media diet? For me, it’s two things: an overabundance of choices, and the growing incursion of advertisements in virtually every aspect of media.

Perhaps you have noticed some of these incursions:

Amazon announced it will begin running ads in Amazon Prime Video.

FreeVee has arrived and now seems to be offered on every platform, including my LG flatscreen TV.

YouTube ads are getting longer, more frequent, and often not skippable.

Podcasts now have host-read ads up top, mostly skippable, but some not.

And while ad frequency has ramped up, the relevance of them has most certainly not. After almost 10 years of watching video without ads – — as with TIVO, Netflix, and Amazon Prime — interruption advertising has returned with a vengeance.

OK, I get it: I’m spoiled. The idea that a subscription could pay for video without a dual revenue stream was certainly a fantasy that couldn’t last. But what media platforms and distributors fail to understand is that consumers’ tolerance for “free” content has its limits. Facebook is free, Instagram is free, TikTok is free, Email is free — but not for long.
“Meta Verified” is being tested in Australia and New Zealand, for $11 a month. While the product doesn’t promise an ad-free experience, it’s clear that Meta is looking to explore a time when consumers’ frustration with ads boils over. [$11 x 12 = $132/year].

There are some conflicting trends today. Amazon, known as the site where you can purchase baby food, cat toys, and hardware to fix your bathroom faucets, is increasingly earning revenue by selling advertising. Amazon’s online advertising unit just brought in over $10 billion in the second quarter of 2023 — a 22% jump from Q2 of last year.

So if advertisers are finding new ways of reaching consumers, does the underlying basis of “Free TV” ’find itself under irreversible decline?

For me, the relentless number of monthly subscriptions, combined with the rising tide of advertising support networks that also charge a subscription fee, is just a few too many hands in my pocket.

I’m going on a media diet. How about you?

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