Today, in case you didn’t know, is a special day, it’s World TV Day. A day that celebrates the good and the great things that TV delivers to us all. And some of these things are pretty great indeed.
I bet you didn’t know that Aussie households are 30% more likely to have a TV set than a barbeque or that TV reaches 16 million Australians every day.
Or that if you stood all the Americans that watch TV each day on top of the other, they would stretch all the way to the moon.
In the UK the average viewer this year will have watched over 1,300 hours of TV: the equivalent of watching all seasons of Breaking Bad, Orange is the New Black and House of Cards more than 10 times over.
All facts, all true and all show the power of today’s TV – its alive and thriving – despite the few faux-facts doing the rounds. Maybe it’s time to take another look at TV and some of the myths written about it?
The first familiar fairy tale imagines that the growth of the internet, and in particular online video consumption, will somehow lead to the demise of TV.
This flowery piece of fiction, written by overseas technology companies not best-known for their content creation skills, was thrown into sharp relief by the events of the past week, in which we saw a math mix-up that massively overstated Facebook’s audience metrics.
It was a timely reminder that TV is the medium with the greatest reach and scale – helped by the fact that it is now available any time on any mobile device - but that it also has the gold standard for third-party, independent, audience measurement.
And yet, for advertisers making decisions about where to allocate their budgets, the temptation to be seduced by this bedtime story has never been greater because believing it could make them appear “innovative”.
It’s a stress echoed in Accenture’s global study published recently ago about who “exits the building” when performance doesn’t meet expectations.
The Accenture study found 37% of the 535 global-company CEOs said their CMOs would be the first fired if corporate growth targets aren't met, putting CMOs ahead of chief sales officers (34%) and chief strategy officers (29%) on the firing line.
It’s that kind of spotlight that has marketers second guessing themselves, their agencies and their media investments and it’s dangerous because if they are not careful it could lure them away from TV, a proven channel that builds brands and businesses.
The challenge is we aren’t giving credit where credit is due. Far from dying, TV still reaches 95% of the Australian population every month. Almost 90% of them will sit down and spend 30 mins plus with it without switching.
That is engagement worth celebrating, not denigrating.
My other favourite bed time story out there is that millennials are not watching TV. It’s true they watched a little less last year than in previous years but nothing like you may think.
ThinkTV’s British sibling, ThinkBox, shone a light on this recently. It analysed the percentage of overall video viewing for young people, for 16 to 24s, that YouTube accounts for.
It’s 10%. And what of TV you ask? Well, is just under 70%.
And these figures are similar in Australia. The latest Multi-Screen Report, shows TV still reaches 72.3% of 16-24 year olds, 81.8% of 25-39 year olds and 79.3% of teens every week.
And while reach for audiences over 40 remains higher, and growing, at 91.7% for 40-54 year olds for instance, the discrepancy between the ages on TV viewing is, it turns out, an age-old phenomenon. As is the fairy story that accompanies it.
As far back as 2009 an Ehrenberg-Bass report co-authored by Professor Byron Sharp made the point in a refreshingly common-sense way. “Because they go to bed earlier, children watch less television. In recent years low viewing levels for children have been mistakenly interpreted as evidence that younger people are replacing TV with the Internet. In fact they always watched less TV than their elders, before and after the arrival of Facebook and Twitter.”
But what of mums (and women more generally)? Last week I heard Kylie Rogers, the brilliant managing director of Mamamia, tell the Business of Media Summit in Sydney that "Mamamia reaches 4 million women a month and pop culture is a hot topic amongst them. Women want to talk about TV shows. Through our podcasts, articles and video Content. Yes, they're still watching TV!"
They sure are Kylie, just like billions of other around the globe today.
So how about we take this day to celebrate the wonderful medium that delivers audiences in the most brand-safe, reliable, measurable way of all?
What about a shout out to Colombia, where 13.5 million people will watch TV today, twice as many as follow TV star Sofia Vergara on Twitter?
Or to Peru where 16 million people will watch TV this week, enough to fill Machu Picchu every day for over 17 years.
Or to my personal favourite: Italy, where the total time spent watching television in 2015 is equivalent to the time it takes to play 1,032 football matches, to bake 61,911 pizzas or to brew 222,878 cups of espresso.
So sit back, grab a coffee and take a minute today to celebrate World TV Day.