Future media observers will point to Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015 as the day traditional TV’s music died. Numbers don’t lie.
Putting aside the fact that Andy Samberg may be as bad a host as the ill-fated 2011 Oscar combo of Anne Hathaway and James Franco, “The 67th annual Emmy Awards” drew the worst TV audience on record. This past Sunday’s awards telecast landed the show’s smallest audience on record — 11.9 million viewers — according to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen. That number was down nearly four million viewers from last year’s show on NBC (15.6 million), airing in late August (when folks presumably are still on vacation).
Somewhere between the endless statue giveaway stream for “Olive Kitteridge” and “Veep,” I imagine countless viewers followed my lead (or perhaps I followed them) by switching the dial to watch the Green Bay Packers defeat the Seahawks on NBC. That game posted a 16.3 rating — NBC’s 2nd-best ever in Week 2, up 16% from the Chicago-San Francisco game in week two last season.
Select the data point of your choice. I like this one from Nielsen: Video usage on personal computers, smart phones and mobile tablets has grown nearly 20% overall year-over-year from 2014 to 2015. Top that off with the uniform agreement that cord-cutters and cord-nevers are now consider a real thing, and the Emmys, as they represent the old guard, are hearing that music that tells them to get off stage. And get off stage quickly so we can go to a commercial.
As a fan of Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “The Tipping Point,” I subscribe to his premise that sea change can be traced to “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point.” The 67th awards for TV excellence will go down as the tipping point for online/streaming video. Aside from bad ratings (come on, millennials don’t watch linear TV aside from sports), here are a few more things to consider:
- HBO was the star of the evening with the aforementioned “Olive Kitteridge” and “Veep” bringing home the gold. Consider HBO’s recent moves to slowly nibble away at the pay-cable cord and allow anyone with or without an MVPD service to subscribe.
- Amazon, which is arguably the most low-key streaming network around, did itself proud with “Transparent.” When was the last time someone thanked a dotcom billionaire (Jeff Bezos) at a media award show?
- Netflix took home some love for “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards.”
- Lastly, I’ll point to the burgeoning success of the mini-series/movie, which includes “American Crime Story” and “American Horror Story.” If ever there is a genre tailor made for binge streaming, this is it. I’d bet these shows do far better on OTT networks than they do on their original broadcast networks.
This is just a surface skim of the points that underscore this tipping point that topples “traditional” TV in favor of a new world media order. Stay tuned — there’s a lot more to say.