Will they ever come back?
Last week, my company hosted a client event, where I was moderating a round table on the topic "Digital distribution: what model for the future?". Yes, I know - what an expectation! I guess anybody with a clean and definitive answer would keep it for herself and start her own company. But anyway, it was very interesting to hear what people from different horizons had to say - music, TV, audience measurement agency, etc.
But one point in particular really got my attention. A very senior executive from a major French free TV explained to us non-linear video consumption is not hurting at all linear programming, and that the opposite is actually happening, i.e. an increase in average daily linear video consumption. And when asked how could this be, as all teenagers are hooked on YouTube, his answer was that in fact "the stats have been showing for more than 10 years a sharp drop in audience from teenagers and young adults between the age of 14 and 25, but then a strong come back when moving with a partner, and/or having their first child". Wow. It actually depressed me. So were we all lured into a digital fantasy?
Not so fast.
He was insisting these stats had been showing the inversed gaussian profile described above for over 10 years. But that's the issue. Main concern should not be about how things were nor how things are. It's all about how things will be going forward.
My 4-year-old daughter doesn't ask for watching TV. The asks for "the cartoons inside the TV" to designate VOD services. And "the bird in dad's computer" for road runner episodes on YouTube. So, when (almost) never watching linear programs when a kid, how in the world could she ever come back to them?
OK, I hear you, there in the back of the room, saying this is a very biased view, because we are a population of technology addicts, and our habits do not reflect the broader population. But again. Fine, they do not. I am ready to bet big time they will soon.