80% Hype; 20% Content

February 1, 2018

Most everything in the commercially oriented United States is a lot of hype but not much content.  As an example, an average professional NFL football game lasts 3 hours and 12 minutes, but if you tally up the time when the ball is actually in play, the action amounts to a mere 11 minutes.

That is roughly 11 playing minutes out of 60 official game minutes, or around 20%.  We have written before about how that 20% of action in sports is also being sliced up, deleting the spontaneity to poor effect.

When one watches a sporting event, during the 3 hours, say, of an NFL game, getting 11 minutes of action is actually much much less than the number of commercials one is exposed to.  So given that 20% playing content is so much less, it makes the viewers benefit less.  Think of the transaction: watch eleven minutes of action and we will show you 2 hours and 49 minutes of advertising, self-promotion, instant replays, chatting, and other bits.

No wonder viewership has declined.  And this year, again, viewership has declined.  The transaction just isn’t balanced.

Spending some time in the U.S., I am amazed by the plethora of shopping channels and infomerical programming as well.

We evaluate any media property based on the intrinsic benefits to the audience.  As these benefits diminish, the advertising value also diminishes.  Think of the junk mail magazines that arrive by direct mail to your home – some with virtually no editorial value whatsoever.  The ad rates are super cheap because no one is going to “read” the book and so no one will actually see your ad.  The same s true of all media.  When it is only 20% content, is it worth watching.

This will result in a declining viewership for broadcast programming and a continued growth of streaming and youtube videos.  The convenience of seeing what you want when you want it, is only part of the transaction.  The inundation of commercial content diminishes the viewer’s benefit.  And this opinion is coming from an ad guy.

We have to remember viewership is a transaction: the audience will tolerate some commercial messages to gain access to the content the media are providing.  But there is a point where the intrusion overrides the benefit of the content.

The same problem exists for published websites.  Listicles will only go so far. To gain a reader, respect them, give them some value for their readership.

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