The Internet’s (serious) generation gap

The Internet’s (serious) generation gap.
At a New Media presentation last year, one TV sales executive had rationalized New Media advances into the TV world as a typical young peoples’ passing phase. He argued that one day, they’d grow out of it and need to take part in the real world. I’m afraid that’s a dangerous self-deception, because there’s a huge difference between today’s generation gap and those of the past. This one is driven by disruptive technologies that are, well, threatening to a lot of adults. It’s not that kids are more computer savvy; they’re savvy to a new form of communications and the market concept of conversations. This is not something they’ll give up, and it’s why the shudder you feel from Modernist institutions is the ticking of the generational clock.

Punishing a teenager by denying TV is nothing. Denial of the Internet is huge, because it’s their lifeblood, and it’s very serious to them.

Last week, I told you about the new Edison Media Research/Arbitron “Internet and Multimedia” study and displayed a chart showing the disconnect between the 12–24 age group and the Internet universe as a whole. While important, it didn’t go far enough, but the folks at Edison Media Research were kind enough to provide the missing data.

“Suppose you could never watch television again or you could never access the Internet again. Which would you be more willing to eliminate from your life?”

User group Give up TV Give up Web
Ages 12–24 54% 45%
Ages 25+ 38% 59%

Look at the striking difference between the 12–24 group and those 25+. This is what the television industry needs to see and see clearly as it struggles with what to do in the wake of declining viewership. Let me be perfectly clear. There is no way to successfully grow an audience for television anymore. The best that can be done is to rob from Peter, and that takes twice the effort and resources it used to take, because the universe is shrinking.

The age of passive participation is over. A television station without a multimedia business model is following other like-mindeds to the tar pits, because they stubbornly believe there’s food there.

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