Television has ruled the advertising and marketing world for decades. Emotions run high every time people talk about Future of TV. Digital Natives believe that the TV is dead or going to die very soon. Analogue Missionaries argue vehemently against it and proudly preach that Digital is a new kid on the block but TV will always be dominant. Interestingly, Digital Immigrants are caught in between and undecided on the future as well as which group they would support. I’m Digital Native and have been part of this debate for many years. I have been researching this topic for years and have spoken to many experts to get objective views from both sides. I have used three important filters to paint the future – people, technology, and content.
Digital has given people power and they’re no longer willing to accept the “idiot” title that the television industry gave them. People believe they are smart and they are the Gods of this new religion called Digital. They have high degree of fidelity to mobility than to couches. They’re not afraid of compulsive connectivity and in fact they thrive on that. Each and every digitized person is influential. The structure and impact of their influence differs from category to category. They’re open to new ideas and willing to migrate quickly. So loyalty to platforms or form factor is proving to be a myth. Digitized people share everything – experiences, anxieties, aspirations, tools, and most importantly content. And they do believe that Sharing is not Stealing. Digitization gave people power to prove that they are smart and they initiated the process of taking the content out of the Box. Imaginative people are now thinking of ways and means of liberating content by breaking down geographical, cultural, and technological barriers. They’re ready to fight with organizations that are determined to keep the content locked up and treat the content consumers as Idiots.
There is an old saying “luck favors the brave” and I believe “technology favors smart people.” Technology is expected to be exponentially disruptive over next decade or so. It has enabled always onstate and is rapidly making the off button redundant. Technology will move content into clouds and people will have to simply tap into those clouds rather than storing everything locally. It essentially means that client devices will become slimmer and content servers will become fatter. Technology has successfully broken down the barriers for content creation, distribution, and aggregation. Next-generation search capabilities focusing on audio visual context will transform the way content is organized and consumed. Most importantly every surface will have the ability to transform into a screen and it would certainly challenge the three or four screen approach to content delivery and marketing. Additionally most surfaces will be touch compatible, voice sensitive and networked. It will enhance content consumption and people to people interactions.
Smarter people and disruptive technology are posing significant challenges for the content industry. Content will become more tangled and cluttered. Next- generation search will play a very important role in navigating the chaos and social playlists will drive program guides. “Content tasting” through “snack content” will be important, as it will provide sensory examination and evaluation. People and technology will force content owners and distributors to make the content more fluid and enable faster delivery. The concept of content loyalty will be challenged by content novelty, as people will increasingly seek new ideas and content types. So the content owners and distributors will have to rethink lifecycles and pricing models. Most importantly pirates will play an important role in determining success of new content. Pirates are frenemies. In the context of current TV model they’re considered enemies because they’re seen as a cause of potential revenue loss. Going forward they might just be used as friends because piracy is also a pseudo indication of popularity. Have you ever seen poor piece of content getting pirated? Pirates only go after valuable items and don’t waste their time on things that are inconsequential. Given the challenges of content clutter, content owners will have to rethink the way they go-to-market and might have to incentivize pirates to get their content in front of relevant audience. I know this is an emotional issue for many but it is certainly worth a consideration.
In essence, smart people are pushing the TV out of the box. Technology is helping people to challenge and disrupt legacy models. Content owners will have to either embrace or be ready to evaporate from the marketplace. TV is struggling from all angles and surviving with only life support systems. TV will have to follow a simple law of nature. It will have to die and let go of its current body (form factor), as it is old and suffering from many diseases. Death of TV (or Idiot Box as we know it) will allow people to leave the baggage behind. A rebirth is then possible with the soul of entertainment, as people around the world still want to be entertained.
To be Born again, TV must Die first.
(Originally published in ClickZ.Asia on 8 May 2012)