TV has long been king of media, for decades taking the lion's share of marketers' ad dollars. But it looks like TV will be surpassed by the young upstart -- digital.
Recent news reports tell us it's finally happened -- something prognosticators have been talking about for years. eMarketer says the ad spend on digital media will hit just a bit over $72 billion by the end of this year, squeezing past the $71.3 billion that advertisers are spending on TV in 2016.
But the so-called "old media" TV, along with newspapers and magazines, aren't quietly going away. Instead, they are ramping up digital platforms of their established brands, the oldies like NBC/Comcast, Disney/ABC, FOX, Hearst, Univision and Scripps, and buying into some of the digital newcomers that have been stealing their ad dollars.
"If you can't beat 'em, buy 'em" seems to be the mantra of the big guys.
In a recent report aptly titled "What's Old is New," Bloomberg gives a number of examples. Comcast, which owns NBC, is investing in two new media outklets --n Cheddar, a business news platform aimed at Millennials, and a yet-unnamed offshoot of Politico. Comcast also has partial ownership of Buzzfeed, Vox and afood oyutlet called Tastemaker.
Hearst, known for magazines like Cosmo, Marie Claire, Seventeen and House Beautiful as well as newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle, is buying Complex, a group of websites covering fashion, technology, hip hop, technology and entertainment.
Univision, the Spanish-language TV giant, is in talks to purchase Gawker, the site that went into bankruptcy after it lost a big invasion of privacy case against ex-wrestler Hulk Hogan.
Even a media "dinosaur" like Verizon, whose roots go back to Ma Bell, is very much in the new media business. The phone/cable/internet company owns online sites like Huffington Post and TechCrunch and is in the process of buying Yahoo. Plenty of ad revenues there.
So let's not feel sorry for the TV companies since most of them aren't just TV anymore. They're following the money.