Is Mass Media Dead or Thriving?
It’s a fascinating discussion when I ask people about their media habits in 2016. A lot has changed over the years with more options than ever and sometimes people ask me a variation of this question,
Is Mass Media Dead or Thriving?
Mass Media by definition is considered a form of media that is consumed by a large number of people. While that definition hasn’t changed in the past 100 years, the way that media is delivered and consumed has changed over the past 25 years.
For my purposes today, I’m going to address this from a marketing standpoint.
While we have seen the decline of newspapers and magazines, those that have survived have done so by reinventing themselves to appeal to a niche audience. It’s doubtful that we’ll ever have the dominance of a major print publication, even on the local level except where there are no other media options available. But then there’s the internet…
Television was dominated by ABC, CBS, NBC and then PBS and Fox came along to provide a few more viewing options. Unless you recorded a show on your own, you had to watch it live. This was an excellent way for advertisers to reach a bunch of people simultaneously with their commercials as we sat “glued to the tube”. Then with the expansion of networks and the ability to time shift and watch what ever we wanted, when ever we wanted, the simultaneous viewing of commercials began declining. But then there’s the internet…
Radio stations that play music have always had competition. As consumers we could buy the music and listen when ever we wanted to what ever we wanted. Music radio stations have always had competition for music listenership that went beyond other radio stations. Then with the expansion of choices including the internet…
Talk Radio stations have had a mix bag of competition. When I first started listening to WJR and WWJ in Detroit 30 years ago, I tuned it for information. Some talk stations don’t offer the information that listeners want and they have lost listeners because their are plenty of options including the internet…
As a side note, I looked at the listenership of the Fort Wayne radio stations and 4 of the top 5 stations have incredibly large audiences of over 100,000 weekly listeners. That’s 20% to 30% of the population, each of those stations reaches individually. WOWO, my station, and 3 of our sister stations that play music are in that top 5, out of over 25 stations in the Fort Wayne metro area.
The concept of Mass Media has changed. When there were fewer options, each option had more people reading/listening/viewing. Now we have the ability to personalize our media habits as consumers and as marketers.
I don’t need a newspaper subscription to read the local news. I can get the information online. I don’t need to watch CBS on Tuesday night at 8pm to see the latest episode of NCIS. I can watch it later On Demand with Comcast on my TV, laptop or smartphone. I don’t need many of the old medias on a daily basis the way my parents did.
Instead we get to choose. I can listen to the radio as I am driving to work to get the news, weather, sports and other information. A lot of people still do this. Even teens do this. Maybe not as many as their grandparents generation, but they still do.
For businesses that want to reach the masses, it’s do-able. We have plenty of options and we’ll look at those options next time.