Royals, relevance and reach: Why both TV and the British monarchy will not only continue to survive, but thrive
TV is far from dead. But columnist Merrily McGugan explains how, thanks to the internet and streaming video, it's continuing to evolve, which means marketers need to adapt.
The UK’s longest-ever reigning monarch (64 years in office and counting), Queen Elizabeth II, exerts an extraordinary amount of influence over Britain and the rest of the world.
In an article published by Fortune Magazine in September 2015, 27 percent of Chinese shoppers said they draw inspiration for fashion and home style from the Queen and the rest of Britain’s royal family. And when Chinese consumers were asked what words they associate with Britain, 25 percent said “the Queen.”
Twenty-five percent? Talk about enviable awareness and lift. It’s clear that Britain’s royal family has become a brand — and a powerful, relevant brand at that (even with the chaos of Brexit). But how exactly did that come to be?
The significance of television
Royalty has an innately glamorous allure, but television has played a starring role in the widespread rise, recognition and influence of the British monarchy. Its worldwide reach has resulted in record-breaking viewings of key events during the royal family’s reign.
In 1997, an estimated 32.1 million viewers watched Princess Diana’s funeral on television, according to the BBC. Over 24 million viewers in the UK watched 2011’s royal wedding on the BBC and ITV, and nearly 23 million Americans turned on their television sets to watch Prince William and Kate Middleton tie the knot. The estimated numbers for the BBC and ITV put the royal wedding in the all-time top 10 most-watched television programs of all time in the UK.
Back in 2011, Forbes and Huffington Post both ran articles titled “The Death of Television.” And while the titles seemed to paint a pessimistic view of television’s future, the arguments put forth supported the opposite view.
While traditional linear television viewership might end up competing against the internet for viewer attention, the authors predicted, new formats of television such as web-hosted episodes and video-on-demand (VOD) were set to flourish. Television would thrive in the future — albeit in a slightly different format than before.
Evan Shapiro, author of the Huffington Post article, stated that after years of predicting television’s impending demise, “to date, nothing has killed, or even seriously wounded television.”
Shapiro was ahead of his time, but he was right. In 2016, live television events such as the Super Bowl, the Oscars and the Olympics still draw hundreds of millions of viewers. But consumers have supplemented (or substituted) television in many cases with internet-supported video and programming. And that means advertisers need to do the same.
Remember those record-breaking royal wedding TV viewership numbers mentioned above? Well, the reach of Britain’s famous wedding extended beyond television to encompass the internet, too. ABCNews.com said its online site traffic the day of the royal wedding was its highest since the 2008 US presidential election.
And, E! Online said its 23.6 million page views the day of the wedding was the website’s heaviest day of traffic ever. More Americans accessed E! Online the day of the wedding than the total number of Americans who viewed the wedding on US television.
It seems that the internet — and streaming television/video — played a significant role during Kate and William’s big day.
Shifts in consumer TV viewing behavior real and widespread
- According to an IAB Research survey conducted in January 2015, one in three US consumers now own a connected TV.
- Three in four consumers consider connected TV to be as good or better than watching traditional linear TV.
- Two in five connected TV owners spend at least half of their TV viewing time streaming online content to their connected TV.
- 58% of TV commercials are viewed during playback of time-shifted and video-on-demand content.
- 60 million Americans consume ad-supported over-the-top programming (OTT).
- 181 million viewers watch video on apps or websites rather than on traditional broadcast television.
An IAB Video Ad Spend study released in April 2015 reported that that marketers and agencies were likely to increase spending on digital video (68 percent) and mobile video (58 percent) advertising, rather than on broadcast/cable/OTT TV ads (33 percent). Of those who plan to increase their spending on digital video advertising, most said that they would be borrowing those funds from cable or broadcast TV.
Both television and the royal family, in many ways, represent traditions of years gone by. But they also remain relevant — and provide reach — to hundreds of millions of consumers around the world.
And in the end, cannibalizing television budgets to fund digital video may not be the best way to increase marketing ROI. The influence of the Queen’s fashion recommendations remains indisputable, as does the proven influence of television on consumer purchasing decisions.
It seems the Forbes and Huffington post columnists were right after all. Television is far from dead — it has simply evolved. And so can (and should) marketers.
Long live the Queen.