Everyone I talk to here in the US media industry says the future of media is serving up content to highly engaged “niche” audiences. So is the looming switch off of TVNZ’s Teletext service a chance to tap the 60+ demographic?
Is it even worth it?
Teletext is an archaic hanger-on in today’s digital content landscape that nevertheless has a loyal audience. Turning it off is probably overdue – the BBC’s iconic Ceefax service bit the dust last year. Closed captioning, thankfully, will remain available.
The compelling argument is that everything available on Teletext is now only a click away on the web.
That is of course true. But a lot of older people have internet access – they may be on an entry-level 5GB per month data cap, but rarely stray beyond their email program and the odd Google search.
Some of them would just rather pick up the remote control to dial up the Lotto numbers, news alerts or the weather forecast. Many of them will have a Sky or TelstraClear pay TV set-top box and if they bought a TV recently, it may even be a smart TV that is internet enabled and can display apps.
Either way, there’s a channel to a niche audience with particular needs suited to a particular type of advertising.
While the TVNZ website still claims an audience of 1.3 million for Teletext, the company was recently quoted as saying the number of regular users had dropped to around 100,000.
Is there life for a Teletext-type service in the digital world, served up as an interactive channel similar to TelstraClear’s weather channel? Is there enough critical mass yet to build an app for smart TVs that would incorporate Teletext-type content? Are pensioners a demographic worth going after?
The only way it would work is if the service is one click away via a remote control – i.e., it assumes the internet TV has been hooked up to broadband with the help of either a family member or Geeks on Wheels.
Let’s face it the content could be put together very cheaply – this is something several media companies are already doing. It is just collating several sources and packaging them up in an attractive user interface.
Targeted ads for healthcare, pharmaceuticals, groceries etc could potentially provide an advertising stream – we see plenty of them aimed at the silver-haired on TV and in print.
And with both set-top boxes and smart TVs internet-enabled there’s the potential for TV shopping via the remote with the billing taken care of by the pay TV operator and added to its monthly subscription bill.
From a more benevolent point of view, its also potentially a SeniorNet type service that could promote engagement and connectivity in the 60+ community, listing events, activities and Gold Card discounts, for instance.
Are the economics there if we, optimistically, assume 50,000 households are currently regular Teletext viewers? Would the cost of developing apps and putting together content blow the financials out of the water? Are internet-enabled TVs a step too far for the elderly?
Would it work here?
Wherever Teletext-like services have disappeared around the world, generally users are left to retrieve the equivalent information on the internet. Some will Google there way to to information nirvana, others will just go back to buying the paper.
Hey, it may be a stretch, but as someone who has jumped on to Teletext from time to time, mainly to check flight times, i’ll be sad to see it’s chunky pixelated presence fade from our screens. The expanse of the internet puts a lot of old folk off – but the technology makes it increasingly easier to better serve our senior citizens with one-click TV services.