At this year's Edinburgh International Television Festival, the annual MacTaggart speech was given by none other than controversial media figurehead Shane Smith—Chief Executive of Vice. Reviewed by The Guardian as "... a rambling speech interrupted by references to drinking, drug taking, becoming director general of the BBC...", however, Smith did highlight an ongoing issue in the industry: the disengagement and changing media habits of young viewers.
Smith stated: "Now the baby boomers have had a stranglehold on media and advertising for an entire generation. That stranglehold is finally being broken by a highly educated, ethnically diverse, global thinking, hard-to-reach generation. And media is having a hard time adapting to this rapid change.”
With BBC3 losing almost 20% of young viewers since moving solely to iPlayer, there is increasing evidence of this trend occurring. Sky's managing director of content, Gary Davey, pointed out in regards to the speech, "we all have to acknowledge that we probably need to encourage more young people to be in the creative process. But I think we're already doing a lot of what he's advocating... We have a fantastic diversity of channel types and programme types... it's a fantastic breadth of choice. We are effectively servicing lots of target groups."
Vice, itself, has launched a channel called Viceland in the US aimed at the young and disengaged audience Smith spoke so passionately about. However, this channel as it appears is running into the same problems as the rest of the industry: a lack of viewers. According to the Wall Street Journal who obtained Nielsen data regarding Viceland, the channel is only drawing an average primetime audience of 45,000 in the 18-49 demographic, with its average viewer being 40 years old—not exactly the youthful audience Smith envisioned.
TheWrap recently reported the findings by ComScore's Cross-Platform report, noting that: "People under the age of 35 spent more time on a mobile device or a computer than they did watching live TV in the final three months of last year. In fact, the study found that mobile is quickly approaching equal status with live TV among Millennials. That demographic spends 47 percent of its time with live television, while mobile already accounts for 40 percent."
Although Smith did highlight a number of the issues pressing broadcasters in regard to young viewers, the general consensus in the UK industry has been that the CEO of Vice's remarks were more specific to the US than the UK.
DTG Staff | 16.09.2016