Don’t Touch That Dial!

Sep 16, 2019 - Barry Armbruster

You don’t have to look very hard to hear some industry experts saying that TV, and its viewership, is dead. But don’t write up the obituary just yet. There are still more than 300 million televisions in the U.S. Yes, shifting media consumption habits have driven audiences online and to ad-free streaming services. However, digital viewing doesn’t automatically mean a complete dismissal of traditional direct to consumer (DTC) viewing. In other words, most people watch a combination of both.

Even in articles touting the end to television, like this article from, wrap up with cautions to dismiss it entirely. “However, it would be unwise to dismiss TV as an enduringly powerful platform. Younger generations are certainly forgoing standard TV in favor of on demand, but this is not as pronounced in other age groups. TV’s gradual replacement is still a transition, not a takeover.…Television isn’t dead yet.

One of the most convincing arguments against televisions eminent demise is the amount of money spent on advertising. Just take a look at the healthcare sector where more than $6 billion is spent on DTC ads every year. That’s billion with a “B”. And that’s just one industry. The truth is that TV outperforms other media investments, while brands continue to increase their DTC spend on the medium year after year.

According to Zenith’s 2019 U.S. media and marketing-services spending forecast, overall television spending will reach $67.2 billion in 2019. At an estimated $74.4 billion, television spending leads measured-media spending by all U.S. advertisers by a substantial margin. That’s a lot of money for a dying medium. So while there are certainly major shifts occurring in the way Americans watch TV, traditional television viewers cannot be ignored.

The same can be said for all types of traditional media. While digital marketing has changed the landscape and our industry forever, it’s still far from the only game in town. Even in this era of online everything, magazines, radio and out-of-home still play a part in the modern DTC media planning mix.

The key takeaway from all this information is to stay informed. It’s easy to react to over-hyped reports of the demise of DTC viewing and television in general. In fact, it’s easy to react to a lot of what we read and hear – especially when it’s presented in “must-act-now’ tone that seems to rule the Internet. The secret is to step back and take a long view. Keep your eye on emerging trends, but resist acting on every one of them. And finally, find a marketing partner that you trust and one you can rely on to know the ins and outs of the industry.