Debate on YouTube Overtaking Television
Television refers to a mass medium used in telecommunication to enable viewers’ access multiple image and audio broadcasting channels (1). Television is recognized to have begun in the UK in 1936 when it was recognized as a public service. Since then, Television broadcasting has grown over the years to include many free and subscription TV services with over 480 channels. These TV stations continue to attract massive viewers. Li et al. assert that Television has ceased from being just a box to a telecommunication device that has transformed the entrainment and advertising industry (769). However, the growth of internet technology is forcing changes in the entertainment industry raising doubts about the role of broadcasting television stations in the industry. Due to the rapid growth of the internet, video streaming sites such as YouTube are eating most of the TV viewers, especially the younger generation (Spigel 1). Moreover, the rise of smartphones has led to the rise of smart televisions with the capability to connect to the internet. Therefore, accessing the desired content from the streaming site is making most these sites preferable over traditional broadcast media. Of the numerous video streaming sites, YouTube has been posing the greatest threat to the initial dominance of television in United States households. With over one billion users as of 2014, the site can reach many users globally than any other cable network in the United Kingdom (Kim et al. 255). Consequently, the new development has made some people argue that YouTube is taking the role of television is modern households. Therefore, the paper utilizes academic research and articles to show that though YouTube has exponential growth regarding users; it is still far from replacing television as the essential tool of entertainment in modern households.
Arguments in Support of the Debate
Flexible Nature of YouTube
Pikas et al. emphasize that the flexible nature of YouTube enables the site to overtake television broadcasting at an alarming rate (71). Converse to television, YouTube gives viewers the autonomy to choose what to view. YouTube viewers spend most of their time on the site following their best films, their best stars, or other areas of interest such as education tutorials. While doing so, the viewers have the monopoly to choose when to view their programs of interest without restrictions (Pikas et al. 73). However, viewers using television have to pass through content editors to see their best program. McPhillips analysed BBC shows and the prevalence of adverts in between (240). He found out that in every one hour of the show, he had to spend at least fifteen minutes watching boring and always repetitive advertisements. He notes that such interruptions dissatisfy most viewers forcing some of them to resort to YouTube to watch their best programs (247).
Universal Nature of YouTube
Marwick and Alice argue that the worldwide content offered by YouTube will see over eighty percent of middle-aged and young people spend most their time on YouTube and other related sites that in front of a television (1). Similarly, Gluck et al. argues that YouTube leaves the general population all over the world to generate content and upload it to their site (5). As such, the site has different programs tailored for specific target group in various parts of the world. Taking FIFA matches, for instance, match reviews attract viewers from different parts of the world at their convenient time. On the contrary, television broadcasting lacks universality due to the different time zones of the world. While BBC News is broadcasting matches in Europe, other people in areas such as United States, Japan, and Russia are asleep or busy working in their offices (Gluck et al. 15). Similarly, groups such as religious groups can access their content that aligns with their traditions and practices on YouTube. However, television stations do not have regular content implying the have limited coverage (Burgess et al. 75). Consequently, Watson argues that most people will spend much of their time on YouTube in future with cheaper data rates and faster network speeds.
Rise of Smart Television
Recent research suggests that 56% of the UK homes have TVs that are connected to the internet through either a smart TV or a set- top box. Smart televisions have internet connecting capabilities hence one does not require additional investment in buying desktops to access the internet. Consequently, it has become relatively easy for most viewers to access YouTube content (Katz and Barbara 33). Katz points out the new development poses the greatest threat to television. Initially, viewers could not come to terms with buying two gadgets to meet the same needs. Moreover, the small screen for most desktops reduced user’s experience. However, smart televisions have bigger screens (Katz and Barbara 36). Similarly, Marwick and Alice argues that viewers are likely to spend less time watching non-attractive programs while spending much time on YouTube watching a program of their interest (1).
Argument in Opposition to the Debate
Convenience and Reliability of Television
According to Evens, Tom, and Karen, television stations remains the most convenient and reliable means of viewership and advertisement as opposed to YouTube in the United Kingdom (29). They note that for UK population values authentic information since it helps them to make informed decisions (29). Television programs have to pass through professional editors who ascertain their correctness. Consequently, media houses such as BBC and Sky news provide ninety percent of UK’s population with credible information (Simpson and Wes 23). Besides, one does not require an internet connection to access television channel. With a remote controlled tuner, the viewer can access their channel of choice with little struggle. However, accessing YouTube requires following a lengthy process of accessing the internet and visiting the site with the need to update browser plugins to access the content (Seabrook and John 28). Besides, the information posted on YouTube remains has a high prevalence of propaganda. Consequently, Katz and Barbara assert that television remains the primary mode of advertising in the United Kingdom (35). In their article, “The future of television: Advertising, technology and the pursuit of audiences.” Gluck, Marisa, and Meritxell arrive at a similar conclusion as Katz and Barbara. They evaluate the tendency of UK multinational firm advertisement expenditure on YouTube and television (33). They note that FIFA television spending accounts for over ninety percent of their total expenditure on advertising (34). Advertisement expenditure on YouTube is way below five percent (34). Consequently, they conclude that YouTube is far away from replacing television in modern households (49)
Suitability across different Cohorts
According to McPhillips and Merlo, televisions have content tailored for different age groups (239). Most programs are of interest across cohorts. For instance, movies, documentaries, and series that broadcast on BBC attract viewership across different age sets implying larger viewership at the same time (239). Consequently, they are likely to attract more pricey advertisement. The program developers also place the programs at the particular time of the day in due consideration of the target age group. (239). On the contrary, YouTube landscape is different. According to Pikas, Bohdan, and Gabi, YouTube content is most appealing to the younger people. Moreover, most of the content developers are the young people thereby creating a content gap for viewers whose age exceeds forty years (75). Burgess, Jean, and Joshua arrive at the same conclusion by analysing YouTube statistics (55). They note that, in the United Kingdom, the majority of YouTube visitors are between the ages of 18 and 35 (55). However, as the age advanced, the number of viewers decreases significantly. According to World Health Organization 2014 report on world population trends, populations UK has the bulk of its population above the age of thirty-five years. As such, most of them rely on their TVs to watch their best programs.
Real Time Broadcast
According to Pikas, Bohdan, and Gabi, televisions have the advantage of reporting the information as it happens (76). Programs such as FIFA soccer matches, daily news by organizations such Sky News and TV show by BBC NEWS attract large viewers in the United Kingdom and beyond hence drawing costly advertisement. The aspect remains the major pillar that makes television irreplaceable by YouTube (76). They note that most TV programs are most likely to be broadcast nowhere else. Therefore, they serve to create suspense that keeps viewers glued to the screen (77). Besides, viewers get to see events as they are happening in real time. For instance, European League football matches attract large viewership during their airing. Such is possible due to the infrastructure. However, YouTube viewers rely on past events. For most filmmakers or event holders, they enter into an agreement with media houses to have their events aired on real-time (77). Such events would later be available on YouTube. Katz and Barbara pose a similar argument by noting that most of the YouTube content is a past event with the majority having viewed the content elsewhere (49). Moreover, most actors do not avail their movie on YouTube, as they prefer televisions due to the better revenues. Consequently, as much as people access YouTube to follow their areas of interest, they ultimately spend a substantial period in front of the TV watching live events (Katz and Barbara 50).
Organization of Programs
Berk and Ronal note that television stations have the advantages of organized content matching the time of target group’s free time. They note that editors conduct background research of their viewers to capture their best time of watching their favourite programs. Consequently, televisions have programs tailored to match the current activities of the viewers. However, YouTube content is placed for one to view at their own convenient time (Katz and Barbara. 54). Besides, they will have to pass over vast amount of unnecessary information before they can access their relevant information. Such proves to be tedious for most viewers who just need to tune into their channels at the right time and watch their favourite programs. Therefore, the shortcoming on the part of the YouTube leaves most viewers opting for TV programs (Katz and Barbara). As such, television continues as the dominant form of entertainment in modern homes, as well as a preferred advertising media.
Significance of the Debate
Katz and Barbara evaluate the discussion in their article, “Development and current issues of interactive television in the UK”. They note that the dialogue is contemporary due to the rapid growth of internet technology (35). The internet is raising a generation of individuals whose endeavours is to pursue that, which interests them most (35). Besides, the internet is empowering everyone to discover him or herself at the lowest cost. The Internet provides the best platform. YouTube runs on the internet platform offering free video downloading and viewership. Consequently, it has proved a darling for most people who cannot afford to pay a subscription fee to view their content (Pikas, Bohdan, and Gabi 80). Besides, the platform is offering a ground for people with inadequate finances to show their talents hence attracting sponsors. Similarly, small and medium enterprises have found a platform to market their businesses at the lowest costs (Burges, Jean, and Tomas 21). As such, stakeholders in the media industry, as well as media critics, have developed the feeling that YouTube is about to replace televisions in our homesteads. However, the growth of the internet remains on controversial on whether it possesses the capability to outshine the numerous advantages realized using TV (Marwick an Alice 1). However, as experts have it, television stations are set to diversify their content to counter the competition from YouTube. Similarly, Watson notes that Google is planning to reorganize YouTube services to render them a direct substitute for television programs. Though the move may lead to the sight losing a substantial number of viewers, he believes that the site will offer noteworthy competition to established television networks (Katz and Barbara 39).
Television has played a great role of transforming as well as liberating and informing our society as a whole. For the entire 20th century, television has ruled the entertainment and the mass communication industry. For this reason, it has retained the monopoly of advertisements and other forms of promotion. However, YouTube has utilized the growth of internet to offer an alternative and more appealing platform. By providing flexibility, variety, and affordability, YouTube has gained users as well as advertisement commercials rivalling established media houses. The trend has raised the debate whether YouTube is overtaking television. However, research shows that YouTube is far away from replacing television in the modern homesteads. Television remains reliable, suitable for different cohorts, and offers real-time information. However, the industry will face stiff competition from YouTube leading to a whole transformation of the industry as Spigel and Lynn asserts.
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