TV will die with its audience as young people turn away, experts warn

Television will die with its audience, experts warn, as younger people switch to interactive forms of entertainment like the metaverse

  • The metaverse is a collection of virtual worlds and online gaming platforms
  • Younger people are more likely to spend time in these worlds than watch TV
  • Experts suggest that broadcast TV will not attract a new generation of viewers 
  • Older people are more wedded to traditional television and the format will die with them, the experts predict, unless they make moves into interactive media 

Traditional broadcast television will die with its audience, experts have warned, saying young people prefer interactive forms of entertainment like the metaverse.

This is a loose collection of virtual worlds, gaming platforms and other forms of interactive media, including Minecraft, Roblox and Meta Platforms. 

Frederic Cavazza, co-founder of Sysk, a French firm specialising in digital transformation, said young people have evolved from passive spectators of television, to active players in interactive mediums.

‘They’ve turned away from screens to smartphones,’ Cavazza explained, adding ‘TV channels are going to die with their audiences,’ unless networks adapt.

Traditional broadcast television will die with its audience, experts have warned, saying young people prefer interactive forms of entertainment like the metaverse. Stock image 

Metaverse is a loose collection of virtual worlds, gaming platforms and other forms of interactive media, including Minecraft, Roblox and Meta Platforms

Older people tend to be more wedded to broadcast television, with middle aged people leaving for streaming services like Netflix and Disney+.

But viewership of network television among the under 35s has halved in the past decade, and is expected to drop further as the metaverse continues to develop. 

If they want to compete with the metaverse, and gaming platforms like Roblox, Fornite and Minecraft, broadcasters will need to adapt. 

Half of all 9-12-year-olds in the US use Roblox at least once a week, according to media research firm Dubit, where they do everything from hanging out with friends, actively playing games, or even watching concerts. 

The audiences can be enormous for these concerts and big events, with 33 million people watching rapper Lil Nas X perform on Roblox in 2020 – more than three times the number that watched him on TV at the Grammys this week.

Frederic Cavazza, co-founder of Sysk, a French firm specialising in digital transformation, said young people have evolved from passive spectators of television, to active players in interactive mediums

‘They’ve turned away from screens to smartphones,’ Cavazza explained, adding ‘TV channels are going to die with their audiences,’ unless networks adapt

Matthew Warneford, co-founder of Dubit, a company that produces games for metaverse platforms, says broadcasters must choose whether they are sticking with a shrinking market for traditional TV programming, or start bringing their characters and brands into metaverse platforms. 

‘It means bringing people into a world, making them part of the story, playing alongside their friends – the same way that Disneyland allows you and your friends to be in their world with Mickey Mouse,’ he said.

What is the metaverse?

The ‘metaverse’ is a set of virtual spaces where you can game, work and communicate with other people who aren’t in the same physical space as you. 

Facebook explained: ‘You’ll be able to hang out with friends, work, play, learn, shop, create and more. 

‘It’s not necessarily about spending more time online — it’s about making the time you do spend online more meaningful.’

While Facebook is leading the charge with the metaverse, it explained that it isn’t a single product one company can build alone. 

‘Just like the internet, the metaverse exists whether Facebook is there or not,’ it added. 

‘And it won’t be built overnight. Many of these products will only be fully realized in the next 10-15 years.’ 

While the metaverse is still relatively new, despite its growing presence, TV companies do still have time to adapt, and a large library of well known brands.

However, they will face major challenges catering to older people wedded in passive traditional broadcasts, as well as young people wanting to interact.  

‘If we want to stay relevant, we will have to position ourselves across all these usages,’ said Kati Bremme, head of innovation for France Televisions, the French national broadcaster.

France Televisions is still in research and development mode, including toying with the idea of augmented and virtual reality around sporting experiences.   

The biggest challenge, however, may be financial, as creating interactive platforms can be a costly business, especially if the goal is to disrupt existing players.

Up to now, TV firms have been insulated from tech disruption because their advertising revenue was largely unaffected, unlike newspapers and magazines. 

That could change ‘faster than people realise,’ said Warneford, as brands will be able to use the metaverse to promote themselves directly – also seen in TikTok videos.

It was previously hard to move TV ads into the gaming world because they were created by individual companies ‘who locked them down and captured all the value,’ he said.

But with the more open field of the metaverse, brands will have much more scope to promote themselves and sell goods directly to users.

Indeed, fashion and luxury labels are already making millions selling virtual clothes and accessories on Roblox, Fortnite and other platforms.

‘If they want to reach young people, do companies keep going to TV or do they go to where young people actually are – in gaming and the metaverse?’

Traditionally people under 35 have been seen as the largest market for these types of brands, often having more disposable income – so if they’re not watching TV, brands are likely to move advertising spend to the platforms they are using. 

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