The development of TV usage in the Netherlands from 1980 until the near future
An overview of usage, development and chances
In the Netherlands, fourteen million people out of a population of sixteen million have access to a television (Zigt Media, 2014). In 2017, the number of people who made use of this medium sank about 3% in comparison to 2016 (Boogert, 2018). This means, that last year the Dutch watched TV around 178 minutes per day (ibid.). Television has been, and still is an important medium for advertising, information and entertainment. But what is its role now, what was it 30 years ago, and what will the future hold? The attention lays on how the consumption of TV shows and channels in the Netherlands is developing and what the current key points within this medium are. What are the risks, chances and opportunities, and what are the alternatives that the television as a medium is facing? Thus, the past, present and future of TV usage will be the guideline of this paper.
Back in 1984, the Dutch watched television about eleven hours per day (Vierkant, 1987). According to Paulus Vierkant’s research from 1987, the three main reasons to watch TV were loneliness, pastime, and the need to watch a particular TV show (Ibid.) The frequency and nature of TV consumption is based on factors such as education, social class, age, free time available, and family size, according to the study by Vierkant, who is a Doctor of Philosophy at the Research University of Groningen. (Ibid.) These are first decisive hints to see that the importance and usage of television in the Netherlands has changed. Vierkant’s study from the 1980s, showed that at that time, various types of TV channels were popular in different ways: First of all, information and news programs were particularly popular, followed by culture, drama, entertainment and finally sport and children's programs (Ibid).
To continue, television still is of great importance for the Dutch media world. In 2018, the revenue out of TV and video consumption, which was 1.597 million € high, rose about 200.000 € in comparison to for example 2012 (Pattheeuws, 2015). Three hours per day is the overall time a Dutch is spending in front of the television, as NOS, a Dutch TV channel, reported (Boekraad, 2017). The most watched TV program in 2017 was “Boer zoekt vrouw international” with an audience of 1.35 Million on a Sunday, followed by “Wie is de Mol” with 1.32 Million viewers (Boogert, 2018). Both shows belong to the entertaining sector as they are reality shows (Dieren, 2018). Moreover, they are published by NPO1, one of the three public broadcasting stations in the Netherlands (ibid.). However, it can be noticed that the number of TV terminals in each Dutch household is becoming less (Boekraad, 2017). Most of these developments are related to the reduced TV consumption of today's youth, as NOS further reports (Ibid.). Nowadays, the viewer´s age is an important factor when it comes to television usage. While a six to twelve-year-old child in the Netherlands watches TV for an average of 89 minutes a day in 2016, this figure has already risen to 280 minutes for people aged 65 plus (Ibid.). In addition, it is noticeable that the demand for information such as daily news from television is declining sharply. In this case, the younger generation in particular refers to internet sources. Channels such as NPO 1 and 2, which belong to the public broadcasters, are very specialized in news distribution and therefore have a much older audience today than about thirty years ago, when TV was the only access to information for the masses besides print and audiovisual media (Bakker, 2017). Another reason for the low numbers of TV-watching teenagers might be that there are various subscriptions available (for example from providers such as KPN, Ziggo, Netflix or Amazon prime) that do not necessarily require a TV connection, but only a linkage to the internet, a PC, smartphone or a tablet. In the Netherlands, Netflix for example has around 2.35 million subscribed channels. Also, you must take into account that one single subscription can mean that 1-5 people have access to Netflix per subscription (Peters, 2017). Thus, this is a substantial number. These providers allow freedom in frequency, time and location. It is the viewer’s choice when to watch what, at what place, and how often (voor mijn kleintje.nl, 2018). This is already a big step towards freedom and independence from broadcasters and their programs, but also from the TV channel itself. How far will this trend continue in the future?
Let us have a look on how television consumption will develop in the future. It is a fact that subscription providers such as Netflix will grow decisively in the upcoming years, since they are available on almost every smart device one has access to (Peters, 2017). In 2017, around 30 minutes per day were spent on Netflix by a Dutch who had access to an account, as figure 1 is showing (Peters, 2017). In 2015, it was only 15 min per day. That is a growth of 50% in only two years, as also visible in the image (ibid.).
Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthaltenAbbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthaltenIt shows the growth of streaming usage in minutes per day form March 2015 until June 2017. Another future competition will continue to come from providers such as YouTube, which offers free content with a very broad range of detection and target group orientation. Therefore, in the future it will be appropriate for Dutch TV providers and broadcasters to come up with a new strategy to reach their audience (ibid.). To do so, ABN Amro is advising to change the strategy into so-called “niche-content”, focused on smaller, more specific target groups (ibid.). Disney is already on its way to do so: From the end of 2019 onwards, they will end their contract with Netflix and develop their own streaming program (RTLZ, 2017). Another way to adapt to future trends might be the integration of virtual reality and interaction, as ABN Amro explains further (Peters, 2017). Virtual reality can be explained as the following: “Virtual reality, VR for short, is the representation and simultaneous perception of reality and its physical properties in an interactive virtual environment generated by computers in real time“ (Wikipedia.org, 2018). Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix even goes further in a TV interview in the Dutch Talk show “RTL Late Night”: “In twenty years, we won’t even have physical TV’s”, he says (Latenight, 2015). The future will focus on virtual reality glasses and so-called “projection-technology,” that does not need physical TV’s anymore but projects the content directly in front of the viewer’s eyes with the help of these glasses, Hastings states further (ibid.). Another advantage of Netflix is that the company is planning to make use of their reputation and name in order to make local TV stars global (Ibid.). So, Netflix will not only act as a streaming, but as a branding platform in the future (ibid.). Furthermore, globalization will grow even more according to Netflix’s CEO. In the next three to five years, Netflix will make the same content available in Europe, and therefore also the Netherlands, as it is available in the United States (ibid.).