British Love Island
Verb: To worry, stress and behave erratically
It’s that time of year again. The sun is shining, the scantily clad millennials have taken centre stage - Love Island fever is gripping the nation. Whether the show is your type on paper or not, its success has sent waves of admiration and despair through the media landscape. This year’s BARB Viewing Report found that the reality show was the most watched live programme in 2017. It beat football matches, dramas, films, and prospective leaders of our country arguing on television. And it tells us something about the way we consume media.
It’s no surprise that Deloitte’s TMT team are predicting traditional TV viewing by 18-24 year old’s to further decline in 2018. Ofcom’s Media Nations report echoes this, finding that 16-34 year old’s now watch an average of one hour of YouTube per day on devices other than their TV sets. We now have the ability to pick and choose what we consume, where, and for how long. Despite this, live broadcasts and events are expected to continue to thrive in our evermore diverse digital environment. In a world of on-demand media consumption, the BARB statistics on live programmes confirms what we love the most: reality TV, debates, football games, the Grand Prix – they keep us part of a wider, cross-media conversation that we make time for. For better or for worse, live broadcasts help us avoid the rising creep of ‘fomo’, the fear of missing out.
This is symbiotically linked to a diversification of the devices we choose to use to catch the programmes we love. (Alongside a fair share of generational despair and general snobbery.)
“I'VE GOTTA TEXT!”
According to BARB, for the 2017 Love Island series, almost a quarter of all live and on-demand viewing was done via a non-TV device. And two thirds of those devices were either a smartphone or tablet. We are living in a world of diverse media consumption. Our content is getting increasingly mobile, and it’s changing our expectations of media as well as the way we interact with it.
NOT BEING FUNNY, BUT...
This is echoed in our consumption on the internet. In their Media Use and Attitudes Report 2018, Ofcom found that 9 in 10 adults are online. No shocks there, but adults now spend more time online in locations that aren’t their home, workplace, or place of education, and the number of people using their smartphones to go online is up to 70 per cent vs. 66 per cent two years ago (Ofcom). As anyone who’s bumped into a scrolling commuter on a pavement or platform will know, mobile data consumption had coincided with the apparent death of spatial awareness.
Should we be surprised that TV is still the first port of call for news? Whilst Reuter’s Digital News Report found that BBC News, The Guardian and the Daily Mail are the big fish of the online news world, Ofcom’s findings state that television is still the first place that internet users go to for types of news that are important to them. Especially when they are looking for impartiality (66 percent), breaking news (62 percent), or news that provides digestible key facts (59 percent). As ever, it is in the Beeb we trust…so you can sleep easy at night, Huw.
WHERE'S YOUR HEAD AT?
Of course, social media should not be overlooked in this conversation. Ofcom’s report highlights that social media is most popular for those seeking an “alternative viewpoint” on the news, despite users being less likely to say they often see views that they disagree with online. What’s more, concerns about risks posed by the content we read on the internet are increasing, particularly the risks it poses to others or to society. Are we waking up and smelling the coffee of ‘fake news’? Or is our national paranoia simply increasing? It is certainly interesting that Ofcom notes the importance of critical skills in our evermore digital world to discern what is real and what is fake. “People need the skills to question and make judgements about their online environment” writes Ofcom – a hangover from a tumultuous 2016 US election, overt Russian use of propaganda, and the rise of “alternative facts” perhaps?
YOUR TYPE ON PAPER?
Critics forever theorise about the dystopian future headed for the social media generation. 🤷 However it appears that even everyday grammers and tweeters are becoming more aware of the downsides of social media. A third of people have said that they would like to cut down on the time they spend online. Importantly, nearly half of those asked said they had seen hateful content online in the past year. Whether you’re glued to your screens or not, operators are responding to these concerns. Earlier this month, Apple unveiled its new ‘digital wellbeing’ tool which allows social media fans to set limits on the browsing time for certain apps in a bid aims to reduce screen time. Instagram have also recently confirmed the development of a Usage Insights feature that is set to track the time grammers spend taking pictures of food, beaches, themselves, the dog’s dinner, alongside measures announced earlier in the year to combat bullying comments. Instapests of all kinds, take note.
It’s clear that we are using more and more streaming and on-demand services, see social media as an increasingly viable source of news however “alternative”, and have access to creative opportunities in an interconnected world. However it is important to remember that the internet is not ubiquitous. Consumption of media is not the same for everyone and there are still discrepancies by age and socio-economic group. There are still those who are not online at all and older people remain less likely to be ordering a online grocery delivery whilst dancing to beats from Spotify.
SORRY, WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH COMMS?
Our media landscape is diversifying. How we consume media is diversifying. The PR of the future needs to be just as diverse. The aim of any PR campaign or any humble press release is to be read, shared and heard. How media is “consumed” should be at the heart of any strategy. Campaigns can harness the fear of missing out to their advantage, by making content that people want to share. We need to create content that can span the entirety of the media landscape, that fits naturally into channels and devices, with stories that people just don’t want to miss. PRs shouldn’t be pranging just yet…