How will the death of local TV affect voice over?

OK, perhaps the title of this article is too sensational. But sometimes when you daydream, its not always good. My daydream today involved the future of voice over. Specifically, will opportunities be better or worse for us when "streaming" finally becomes the main-stream?

Yesterday was a big day around my house. My wife and I cut the cord. Actually, the cord to the satellite dish. For the past year and a half we have spent more time watching Hulu, Netflix or Amazon than "regular" TV. Then last week I dove into the world of "over the top" streaming services. I was amazed. After doing my research, I settled on Playstation Vue. I ordered the five day trial, and my life changed. Besides watching live TV, I can get my regional sports channel. I can also get HBO and Showtime included. I can watch "Billions" and "Ray Donovan" AND save $10 a month in subscriptions to Showtime. There are other cool things about it, but the most important one is that I will save $105 a month by dropping DirecTV. $1,260 per year!

After basking in the sunshine of this brave new world, it hit me. What will the future of advertising look like when this becomes the norm? How will this impact me?

I don't watch my local TV stations unless there is a need to. And there hasn't been a need since the "Lost"" Finale. In fact, in 2016 my local PBS station was the only station I watched and that was because of Downton Abbey. I get my local news from the Internet and my weather from my weather app on my phone. My favorite shows from the "major networks" (CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX) are available to me through each network's on demand channel on Playstation Vue. So take someone like me who watches all shows on demand from a streaming device, and multiply that by 50 million. Yep. Local TV stations have a serious problem. And that should bother all voice actors.

Local TV "over the air" ad revenue was $20 billion in 2016 according to Pew Research. And I make 60% of my income on local commercials. I voice too many to count for this article. But the four major networks are now just four options in a barrel of 50 other really good options. And their content is now no longer restricted to the local TV station. So how will this shift in delivery of content affect a local station's ratings, and in turn, advertising revenue? The answer to me, is obvious. So where does that leave voice actors?

We can only hope that the advertising dollars that are spent locally migrate to digital. But my gut tells me there will be a downturn, and local radio isn't helping either. And that could end up wiping out any savings I get from cutting the cord.

What do you think? Should we "brace for impact" or brace for new opportunities? Will Local TV find its way?

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© 2020 Keith Michaels Voice Over  Sault Sainte Marie, Mi. 49783 USA  

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