As he is from time to time, CBS's chief research officer David Poltrack is out on the PR hustings again, as detailed by a piece in today's LA Times.
Like much of the PR out from broadcast network folks this Fall, his message at the UBS Media and Communications Conference was all about how the TV viewing patterns were changing (more VOD! more DVR viewing! more streaming!) and how the broadcast networks business was changing with it.
I understand why that message needs to get out, and based on their adaptation to the viewership declines in broadcast primetime over the last 30 years, I'm pretty confident that the broadcast networks will figure out how to modify their business models in the years ahead as things continue to change.
What I'm even more confident about though is that remarks like Poltrack's about VOD, DVR viewing and streaming will be grasped at by desperate fans as misconstrued "evidence" that their low rated shows will be "saved" by one or more of those factors.
Someday that just might be the case, but today the revenue from online viewing and VOD viewing is minuscule compared with the ad revenue from live TV viewing (and DVR viewing within 3 days), and so that's what drives the renewal and cancellation of broadcast primetime TV shows now.
My guess is that TV by the Numbers is long gone by the time online and VOD viewing is significant enough to tip the balance of a decision on an otherwise low rated show.
Until then, pull out your Fan Excuse Bingo cards and get ready to cover the "But, it's got huge online streaming numbers!" square.