Pay-TV operators are used to thinking in terms of winning the largest share of a consumer’s disposable income: their wallet. In today’s digital world, is that still the most important battleground? With only so many minutes in the day, should operators really be fighting for people’s time?

What’s the fuss all about?
Watching TV typically comes out top in any survey related to leisure activities or media consumption. And in a recent report from Zenith Optimedia , the ROI Agency, looking at media consumption in 65 countries across the world, that status had not changed. TV remains most popular with 183.9 minutes consumption a day in 2014; with Internet consumption coming in second with 109.5 minutes per day.

So why am I advocating a change in thinking? Doesn’t all this TV consumption still mean fighting for the wallet share is still valid?

The broadband effect
As fixed and mobile broadband internet penetration continues to increase, consumers have more choice than ever as to how to spend their leisure time. In addition to traditional linear TV, there’s now online TV, on-demand TV, online gaming, social media and e-commerce to name a few.

And it is this vast array of choice which underpins my view that the battleground is shifting.

The impact
The saying “time equals money” is more true than ever. And this affects pay-TV operators in two ways: subscription and advertising revenues.

From a subscription perspective, it is the not cord cutters impacting the operators which was the initial concern. In fact it is the cord stackers which may dilute the operator’s revenue more; by downgrading their subscription service to a basic package and supplementing this with their chosen OTT service such as Netflix.

When looking at the advertising revenues with the rise of internet consumption and more content being viewed on line, the advertising world continues to reassess where they should invest the billions of dollars. After-all, for advertisers it is the “eyeballs” which are critical; being able to confirm the number of people who saw the advert.

Advertisers are demanding the viewing figures, however, with so many alternatives pay-TV operators are struggling to be able to provide this. If the Internet players are able to demonstrate a better ROI the advertisers could be tempted to invest more heavily in other channels.

Winning the battle
All is not lost for pay-TV operators. Yes, TV is now fighting for people’s time but the number of people with disposable time is on the increase. And operators who are able to offer great content in a personalized way across all screens for a reasonable price are in a good position to succeed.