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  • Subject area(s): Marketing
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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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For decades now, television (TV) has been a prevalent household item in western society. Subsequently, the way in which TV is perceived, delivered, and interacted with has vastly altered during this time. Much of this is due to the growing pervasiveness of digitalization and new technologies utilized by businesses and consumers. Today, television content is distributed through various mediums, each attaining a distinctive purpose. Traditional modes of television, while still prevailing, are viewed ominously in the transition to multiplatform TV. This discussion, drawn from the United States (US) will encompass the implications of Internet-distributed television (IDTV), and how this has resulted in the transition from linear to non-linear television. As well as this, the transformation of audiences and how program creation has diversified will also be examined. Multiplatform Television attains various characteristics of significance as a result of industrial and cultural developments. The non-linear developments through the implementation of Internet-distributed television have transformed the way consumers view television.

Multiplatform television can be outlined as an ever-growing continuation of an increased variety of suppliers, distribution methods, and programmes. There are two defining developments that have influenced this growth, both of which project substantial implications. The first key development is industrial. The industrial presence of multiplatform television entails the development of IDTV existing alongside conventional broadcast and cable networks in an ever-developing society. Broadcasting, cable, and IDTV networks within multiplatform television each attain a unique contribution, of which are specifically attributional. The key characteristic across the platforms nevertheless is the linear nature of broadcast and cable television, versus the non-linear nature of IDTV.

 This industrial development would not be significant, however, without the cultural implications that also significantly contribute to the expansion of multiplatform television. The cultural development of multiplatform television entails omnipresence of the previously discussed distribution networks throughout society.  This ensued due to the rising popularity of distribution systems such as streaming, of which could not be conformed to a broadcasting or cable description. Streaming allows on demand services, which allows consumers to avoid the disruption of advertisements and is strictly remains an Internet provided service. Due to these major developments, multiplatform television has transpired, currently involving a network of suppliers, like the likes of Netflix, Light Box and HBO competing for market share within the IDTV based industry.

The increasing presence of digitized mediums and forms of distribution has resulted in significant changes in the television industry. The cultivating success of non-linear developments afforded by IDTV progressively became a threat toward the older established practices of cable and broadcast networks, as consumers were developing new preferences toward IDTV. It is because of this that both cable and broadcast networks were encouraged to considerably advance alongside non-linear distribution platforms. The lines between the two platforms have become increasingly blurred as they transition from performing a single element, to executing a variety that often intertwined.

New technologies regarding accessibility to the Internet have and are continuing to develop throughout the world, thus while consumers continue to watch television, they are now also provided with alternative innovative devices in which to consume this media. Devices such as smart phones and computers transformed the traditional way of accessing and viewing specific content that corporations deliver. They facilitate Internet use, which in turn affords the hyper connectivity between people and industries that enables TV to be consumed in various ways. Rather than accessing shows in a traditional setting on a single screen, audiences are increasingly privy to viewing content outside of a conventional home environment. The alternative means of accessing television has resulted in an increasingly individualized society of which has over time begun to demand specialized content for their specific desires. This is largely a result of technology advancing at a vast speed, which enables consumers to persistently desire succeeding ‘new’ entities.

The transition from linear to non-linear scheduled television is one of the most significant effects of multiplatform television. This is largely due to younger consumers growing up in a technological age that is moving at a very fast pace in advancements. A substantial development of non-linear television is the facilitated experimentation that producers are able to exploit. Innovative constraints within linear television were reduced when the focus on mass distribution decreased. This was evident through such changes in storylines, presentation, and concept differentiation. With such extreme developments in the industry, the behaviours of consumers also altered (Lotz, 16). Behavioural impacts of non-linear television include their desires of consistent accessibility. Subsequently, consumers no longer feel contingent toward schedules. Non-linear platforms have allowed such platforms such as Netflix and HBO to play to the consumer’s demands of wanting on demand television. This comprises of recommending shows to consumers based on what they have previously viewed. The implementation of personalisation techniques would not be possible in a linear programming platform, thus it is the expanding developments within non-linear IDTV platforms have evidently shifted the television norms.

Internet Distributed Television (IDTV), through the development of new technologies, has facilitated non-linear distribution within the ever-changing Television industry (Lotz, 15). A key component of IDTV that separates it from the traditional use of broadcast and cable is that it contracts the use of time-specific viewing (Lotz, 23). IDTV eliminates the constraint of linear schedules by allowing users to watch their content any time, anywhere. In the early stages, corporations such as HBO and Netflix, key IDTV players in the market, sold much of their created content through the Internet to generate their profit. This profit scheme alongside the competitive advantage of eliminating linear schedules has generated long-term success for these businesses. The increase in profit and marketplace has enabled them to invest in their own production of exclusive content. The revenue gained from these shows has created the opportunity for producers within the industry to take risks. This is present in Netflix’s “Stranger Things” in which the company took a risk in casting the main characters as young children. Interestingly, the corporations often only needed one or very few shows to lure consumers into acquiring a subscription. Following this, the platforms gained control and flexibility in the content they delivered.

It is significant to note that IDTV is still vastly evolving throughout the world. Linear schedules are still very much existent within American television. The enduring influence of linear television results in a remaining inheritance of the schedules within IDTV. The difference, however, is that the content of linear schedules gained by IDTV allows flexibility within the viewing process of the shows delivered. Within a linear schedule, the shows are provided only as they are broadcasted. Because of this, linear schedules rely largely on the fact that audiences will watch the content at that scheduled time.

Audiences play a noteworthy role as they explore the cultural development within multiplatform television. Within broadcast and cable television, consumers are provided with shows created for mass audiences, as there is less viewer control. The transition to multiplatform television involved a significant renovation in the way corporations viewed their once submissive audiences, however. This is largely a result of the cultivating alliance of the Internet and television, which, has significantly increased the level of interaction the consumer has within the platforms. . The movement to multiplatform television also stimulated providers to alter the content they were delivering in order to reach niche markets. The choice and autonomy that multiplatform TV offers allows audiences to select shows tailored specifically to their desires. As a result of this, corporations are executing an increased focus on the varying preferences displayed by audience markets. Digitalization has drastically simplified the process of gathering consumer data. This is significant because corporations such as HBO and Netflix are able to use this data in order to create a personalized experience for the user.  The data acquired allows corporations to facilitate a better experience according to how they interact with the platforms.

The existence of digitalization and new technologies has facilitated a diverse variety within program creation. Consumers are no longer seen as a mass structure of people willing to passively engage with the content delivered to them. The audience must now be enticed and persuaded to remain watching, to remain engaged and to remain loyal to the platform, as they are continuous targets of interest for corporations. Because of this, corporations are required to produce a wider range of programs suitable to all consumer needs.

Before multiplatform television, corporations concentrated on the demographical components of their audiences to produce and deliver their content. Developments within the multiplatform era, however, transitioned this key focus toward brand marketing. This was a result of the digitalization occurring within the television industry and by the early 2000’s; brand marketing had gained precedence over mass distribution techniques. The significance of this proved to be the assumptions so vastly made by consumers regarding every brand they had an encounter with. Brand marketing is specifically significant to corporations such as Netflix and HBO, of which are continuously moving forward with the content and services they deliver in order to remain ahead of the ‘game’. Brand marketing is a significant contributor to the diversity within program creation. Platforms such as Netflix and HBO are now able to utilize a singular show in order to carry their brand’s image. An example of this occurring is how Netflix used the television show Stranger Things to mass market their company. This creates diverse content as the platforms aim to use their ‘prodigious’ show to target their specific target market, which differs across the industry.

Over time, vast developments in television industries have coincided with the advancements of technologies. This in turn has enabled the implementation and growth of non-linear television. Through the discussion of IDTV, it is evident that the technological changes of the last decade have significantly contributed to the development of how we use and access television. The non-linear movement from consumers watching television in the comfort of their own home, to accessing programs any time anywhere has significantly transformed consumer behaviour within the television industry. Consumer’s demands emphasises significantly on providing them with ‘more’, which has resulted in an increase of diverse programming. Subsequently, this has significantly contributed to the success of US originating IDTV platforms.

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