Is There No Hope for Broadcast TV?

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According to Ofcom, the number of people watching broadcast TV has fallen yet again. This time, things look bad. The watchdog claims TV’s most recent slide is the worst since records began.

Has the inevitable dawned on the beloved box?


The answer is more complex than ‘yes’ or ‘no’. As a collective, our taste in entertainment and media is evolving as operators become more adept at giving us what we want, whenever and wherever we want it. This is most evident in gaming – but it’s easy to bring streaming platforms into the same conversation.

For instance, Netflix’s new(ish) games section added five games in May, including Sonic Mania Plus, Katana Zero, and Braid. Oddly enough, the latter, which was originally released in 2008 before getting an Anniversary Edition in 2024, has a new level just for its Netflix launch.

Source: Pexels.
YouTube’s Playables offers a similar but simpler experience. It’s a bunch of mobile-style apps with basic gameplay (e.g. throwing a basketball, playing pool) – and Rovio’s Angry Birds. As far as experiments go, it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.
As mentioned, a mixed-media approach to entertainment is common in gaming, especially within the casino niche. The CasinoStake page indicates Nordis Casino’s experiences range in complexity from slots to ‘live’ games, a concept that aims to create a more immersive experience for players.
Live games can be similar to a TV gameshow. They have a presenter on a webcam who handles the cards and chips and announces the outcome of each round. Some operators may add chat functions, too, so players can talk to their host.
Despite all the above, broadcast TV isn’t losing ground to these newer formats as quickly as anticipated – so there’s still room for broadcasters to arrest TV’s decline. A good 79% of Brits watch channels like BBC One and ITV every week.
Granted, that’s still down year-on-year, with Ofcom reporting a 4% decline between 2021 and 2022, but TV’s competition with Netflix an dDisney+ no longer seems like a one-horse race. Ampere Analysis claims that the number of TV shows requested by networks has fallen 40% since 2019.
That figure does include broadcast TV shows, however.

Source: Pexels.
So, where’s the good news? In the US, streaming platforms have an increasingly fraught relationship with their customer bases, largely due to their increasing resemblance to cable. Written in UK terms, it’s sometimes necessary to buy a streaming package for each exclusive show.
For consumers, exclusivity is an expensive brand of poison, as it locks fans out of certain entertainment experiences. In video gaming, for instance, people who bought a PlayStation for exclusive titles are now angry at Sony’s decision to port them to PC.
The question is, how many people would have made the same purchasing decision if they were aware of Sony’s plans? It’s easy to apply the same thinking to streaming circles. Would Stranger Things fans have settled on Netflix if the horror romp was available elsewhere?
For now, the honeymoon period is over for streaming platforms. Can one of the oldest forms of entertainment stage a comeback?