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It’s time for Free TV and Pay TV to kiss and make up

The lack of cooperation between Free TV and the Pay TV is hurting television as a medium

Free to air TV networks through their binding body Free TV Australia is on the precipice of losing traction amongst marketers and media agencies.

Why? Because their myopic view of the world of TV is that Pay TV is not as good as the Free TV networks’ offering.

So Free TV chooses to simply ignore, or, worse belittle Pay TV.

Have they forgotten that consumers, marketers and agency planners view TV in all its forms?

Free TV and Pay TV are missing a trick, they are not the competition, the force of all other media channels is the bigger threat.

Free TV’s persistent exclusion of Pay TV will be their undoing, setting them on a slippery slope, however getting in to bed together gives them both a solid chance at positioning TV (in all its forms) as the premier medium of tomorrow.

Contemporary marketers and media agencies consider Television as one. Recognising it engages consumers across different platforms at a program level whether it’s on free TV networks, digital, Pay TV, catch up TV, out of home etc. They welcome the combination of Pay TV and Free TV because consumers are willing to watch more TV; viewing on Free to air TV is about 2 hrs and 40 *minutes a day, yet homes with Pay TV and Free TV watch over 3 hours a day, more than half of which is on Foxtel.

Each form of TV has different attributes as does each program. Agencies tailor this blend of attributes to create a unique plan around clients’ objectives.

Free TV is not a one size fits all solution to all clients plans and neither is Pay TV, but together they offer a strong cocktail from which agencies can consider to be the best mix for their clients.

If marketers, agencies and consumers view TV as one, why don’t the networks? The infighting between Free TV and Pay TV is a legacy since FOXTEL launched.

Egos prevent the various TV owners uniting, but I think they need to think hard on what will happen if they don’t join forces.

Some creative agencies view TV as a” great secondary medium” that’s an indication that TV as a whole needs to get their act together sooner rather than later!

If they continue down the track of separation they are missing a huge opportunity to turn the tide and claim that TV is still the powerful and leading medium for many campaigns.

Should they continue on the current path, the ubiquity and effectiveness of TV will be questioned, campaigns will shift to other channels relegating TV to a secondary medium, revenue will slide, programming will suffer, forcing consumers to reduce viewing levels…… Not pretty!

Is it possible for Free TV and Pay TV to embrace each other at least at a governing body level?

In the UK the governing body ThinkBox has been voted Industry Body of the Decade.

Now there is an ambition worth fighting for here.

ThinkBox is UK’s marketing body for commercial TV, in all its forms – broadcast, on-demand and interactive.

Its shareholders are Channel 4, ITV, Sky Media, Turner Media Innovations and UKTV.

More importantly it’s a focused body, its “aim is to work with the UK marketing community to help customers get the best out of television in all its forms”

Clear, unified and clearly effective.

With curiosity and hope, I look to Free TV’s website to find the following: “Free TV is an industry body which represents all of Australia’s commercial free to air television licenses.”

And its mission: ”Provides a forum for discussion of industry matters and is the public voice of the industry on a wide range of issues”.

Not a very compelling mission/proposition to marketers.

Free to air and Pay TV networks need to take a leaf out of Think Box UK and perhaps the

Three Musketeers “All for one and one for all “. It’s better than back stabbing Pay TV.

Together Free and Pay TV are a mighty force with a chance to reaffirm their position as the primary medium for many campaigns.

Free TV and Pay TV, I say you need to ThinkBox, for the betterment of TV in all its forms.

*Source OzTam Metro Homes. Wks 1-26 2013. S-S 0600-2400. Viewing/demo, Consolidated Data.