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This is not the death of Linear TV

Netflix, Prime Instant Video…they are all doing it. Not satisfied with just serving content to subscribers, they are increasingly becoming creators of programmes themselves. This year will see Top Gear reinvent itself on Prime Instant Video after the trio “left” the BBC. Netflix boasts Hollywood A-listers in its ranks with Kevin Spacey’s House of Cards. Being subscription services, these shows do not offer advertisers the traditional method of serving a 30” ad. So just how big a problem is this for them as they attempt to navigate the increasingly complex media consumption of TV viewers?

As both Netflix and PIV don’t publicly release viewing figures, it’s hard to put your finger on just how many people are regularly “binge watching” or their demographic makeup. The idea that everyone is using OTT is, in my opinion, simply not true. Over 8 million viewers are watching the BBCs The Night Manager, over 5 million are enjoying Doctor Thorne on ITV and even 16-34 adults still tune into Britain’s Got Talent and X Factor in their millions. This is still the age of original programming on linear TV and this is where brands continue to reach consumers in huge numbers.

Good TV programmes drive social conversation, an example is when Broadchurch sent Twitter into meltdown and bookies were taking bets on who the murderer was. The competition from Netflix and Prime Instant video is a good thing as it will force the others to raise their game. The main challenge is for ITV, C4 et al to continue to make compelling TV programmes and then viewers will tune in regardless of channel or device. Linear TV remains in good shape and while some continue to dwell on the viewing declines we have seen, particularly with young audiences, there are still as many commercial impacts available today for these audiences as there were ten years ago.

For proof, you only have to look at Sky and their constant introduction of new technologies for TV consumption. For the viewer they’ve just introduced their new “fluid viewing” innovation, Sky Q, which will make it even easier for consumers to watch much more content across all their devices whenever they want. For advisers, Sky’s Adsmart means you can tactically plan ad placement on TV better than ever before. You can also target those that have seen your ad and indeed those that have not on your linear TV campaign on Sky Advance. This allows brands to tell stories using different creative to a specific target audience that has been built from robust linear TV data.

Do advertisers and agencies need to plan smarter on AV campaigns? Yes of course they do. Whilst critics will point to the amount of wastage on linear TV, the advent of these new technologies proves otherwise. What we all need to do is stop talking about how linear TV is losing audience and start to have conversations about how all forms of TV and digital can work together.

Euro 2016 in June will be a perfect example of this. The mass audience will be on linear TV and this will drive the conversation on social media, not the other way round. The brands that use the scale of TV and then amplify it in an engaging way across social media will be reaching huge audiences that I would suggest the likes of Netflix could only dream of.

This post first appeared on the Huffington Post -