Linear TV Strikes Back: How Traditional Television Stays Relevant in the Streaming Age
With the world shifting towards digital platforms and services, the entertainment industry has also noticed a seismic shift. As we navigate the changing landscape, there is no doubt that people’s preferences have shifted. The new OTT platforms have changed how people consume content. Their convenience and flexibility have attracted many viewers, especially the younger generation, who are more tech-savvy.
But does that mean that traditional forms of entertainment like linear TV are becoming obsolete? No! In reality, linear TV is still a significant player in the entertainment industry, and its audience is still growing. Despite the growing popularity of OTT platforms, linear TV continues to offer a unique value proposition that OTT platforms cannot match.
Linear TV still holds a valuable place in our lives. Although various reports suggest a decline in the number of linear TV users and an increase in the OTT platforms subscribers, there is no doubt that there are still certain kinds of content that can be enjoyed over linear TV only. Watching the recorded sessions of a match over the OTT is not fun, but watching a match or live news broadcasting over linear TV on a big screen with friends and family is an amazing experience.
So, let’s answer the big question here.
Is Linear TV Nearing Its End?
Even though on-demand video has created a wave of people enjoying the entertainment content of choice, there is still something great about being able to flip channels and enjoy whatever is being aired without deciding what to watch next.
Not just from a personal perspective, linear TV also has much to offer from a business perspective. Linear TV continues to have a massive audience in India, despite the rise of OTT platforms. A recent report by PwC highlighted the resilience of India’s TV advertising market, which saw a 10.8% decline in 2020 due to the pandemic, but quickly recovered and grew by 16.9% in 2021, reaching a total of ₹32,374 crore.
Moreover, PwC predicts a steady growth rate of 6.3% CAGR for TV ad spending until 2026. This data-driven point supports the argument that linear TV is still a viable and profitable business in India. Despite the growing popularity of OTT platforms, traditional linear TV remains a staple for millions of households across the country, with its large screen, collective viewing experience, and diverse channel options.
Despite the misconceptions that linear TV is dying, it remains a relevant and valuable part of the entertainment industry. And this makes it important for us to understand the benefits of linear TV and the future of linear TV in the entertainment industry. Therefore, we aim to explore the relevance of linear TV in the OTT age and how coaggregation – the coexistence of linear and OTT – can benefit all stakeholders in the value chain.
What Makes Linear TV Unique?
While people may consider the OTT platforms owing to their flexibility and content, various points still make linear TV stand out. One cannot deny linear TV’s unique benefits compared to other entertainment streaming platforms. So, here are a few reasons that make linear TV one of the most prominent choices, irrespective of the developments happening around:
● Facility to enjoy live events
The primary advantage of linear TV is watching live events on a big screen. You can watch any of these in real-time on a large screen with your friends and family, whether sports, news or award shows.
Another key advantage of linear TV is changing topics or headlines based on real-time events. News channels, for instance, can provide breaking news updates and analysis as it happens, giving viewers the most up-to-date information possible.
If you wish to watch another news channel or get information from others, you can do so with a button. But unfortunately, the OTT platform can’t give you live information.
● Budget-friendly option
Not only that, linear TV is quite budget-friendly when compared to OTT platforms. With a cable connection and a satellite, the broadcaster will air the content right to your home. But in the case of OTT, you would need to invest in internet services and the subscription, which is substantial.
● Targeted advertising
As far as the business perspective is considered, linear TV offers the facility to run advertisements that facilitates the reach of a wider range of potential customers. On the contrary, OTT is mostly an ad-free platform.
● Expert Management
Linear TV companies have a wealth of experience and expertise in broadcasting, especially in covering major events and news. They adapt to changing times by exploring new ways to engage audiences and extend their reach into the digital world. By creating additional content around their top properties, they attract a second-screen audience and take advertisers along.
● Trusted Service
Linear TV broadcasters remain integral to the cultural identity of many countries, with significant news-gathering operations and a premier position in viewers’ minds, particularly for major events, despite being outpaced by other entertainment options.
If you can’t beat them, join them. Linear TV companies are establishing on-demand arms to their business, leveraging cloud TV services, and collaborating with former rivals through aggregation and super-aggregation in mature markets.
While linear TV is unique in various aspects, one cannot deny the impact of OTT, and this is one of the reasons that have made it important to develop a strategy where these two can coexist.
Coaggregation: The Coexistence of Linear and OTT
Considering the number of people using linear TV, there has been a decline from 51 million to 47 million in just 3 years. At the same time, the paid subscription platforms saw a surge of around 20% in 2022. This calls for making some amends that can provide a solution for linear TV to coexist with the OTT platforms. The idea behind developing such a coexisting model is to allow the audience to enjoy both benefits.
Linear OTT is a solution that allows viewers to enjoy the benefits of linear TV but with some modifications. Linear OTT broadcasts its content over the internet without relying on traditional cable or satellite subscriptions or over-the-air technologies. TV viewing patterns have not changed significantly despite the rise of on-demand content and new entertainment technologies.
Linear OTT has added new features and functions to enhance the viewer experience, making it a suitable and attractive option for audiences seeking high-quality entertainment. As a result, linear TV and OTT can coexist and complement each other through coaggregation, which offers the convenience of accessing both types of content through a single platform.
But why is this coexistence important?
Importance of Coaggregation in the OTT Era
The Super Bowl displays the massive gap in viewership between traditional TV and OTT. The NFL reported over 100 million viewers watched the game on TV, while only about 11 million viewers tuned in via recorded sessions on OTT.
This highlights the significant role that linear TV plays in broadcasting live events and the challenge that OTT faces in reaching the same scale of viewership. This makes it clear that these two are not replacements for each other but complementary in the entertainment world.
Coaggregation allows broadcasters to expand their reach and offer viewers the convenience of accessing both types of content in one place. This way, coaggregation can be a win-win for both linear TV and OTT platforms, allowing them to work together to offer viewers a more comprehensive and satisfying entertainment experience.
Coaggregation has the capability to open up new revenue streams like collaboration or subscription and advertising, which have never explored before.
Coaggregation: The Indian Landscape
In India, coaggregation offers an excellent opportunity for broadcasters to cater to the diverse needs of their audiences. By combining linear TV and OTT platforms, broadcasters can provide a comprehensive entertainment experience that caters to the needs of viewers in both urban and rural areas.
The Indian government’s Free Dish program, which provides free access to satellite TV channels to millions of households in rural areas, has also helped to increase the reach of linear TV. Apart, the coaggregation platforms like SonyLIV are a great example of how the platforms can work together while offering the best-in-class entertainment to the subscribers.
It has already adopted a coaggregation approach by providing a single platform for viewers to access linear TV channels, live sports events, and on-demand content. As a result, SonyLIV has seen a significant increase in its user base and engagement levels. The platform reported a 70% increase in monthly active users in 2021, driven by its strategy of coaggregation linear TV and OTT content.
This approach has helped increase its subscriber base and revenue while offering viewers a more comprehensive entertainment experience. At the same time, following the same strategy, they are targeting to double the subscriber base from the existing 18.2 million.
The future of the entertainment industry lies in coaggregation, which combines the strengths of linear TV and OTT platforms to provide a comprehensive entertainment experience to viewers. India is a prime example of the potential of coaggregation, with initiatives like the Free Dish program and platforms like SonyLIV successfully catering to the diverse needs of audiences.
As technology evolves, coaggregation will likely play an increasingly important role in the entertainment industry, providing broadcasters with new revenue streams and opportunities to reach wider audiences.
Broadcasters can increase engagement and offer viewers longer viewing and better experiences by leveraging the advantages of linear TV and OTT. Coaggregation is not about competition but offering complementary services that enhance the overall entertainment experience.