Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Burn the boxes

Christmas Day television viewing figures for the major channels is significantly down on last year. The top five "most watched" programmes attracted a cumulative audience of 43.7 million, compared with 51.2 million last year.

Furthermore, this decline is part of a long-term trend. Ten years ago, Christmas Day 2001, the top five got 71.2 million viewers. The most watched programme this year took 9.9 million viewers. Ten years ago, the audience was 21.3 million.

Part of that, of course, is the fragmentation of the media. Viewers do not have to put up with what they are given and can channel-hop. Then, increasingly, there is available streamed entertainment via the internet. People can pick their own films and other programmes, download them at will and watch them at their leisure.

One likes to think that that is an expression of people power – that we are no longer in the thrall of a few media giants, who dictate what we watch. But real power will probably only come when we burn our televisions. That is not going to happen for some time yet.