Television has been evolving, and is about to go into another large evolution, if not a revolution. In the early to mid 20th century television started as an over the air broadcast medium that few content providers had access to. In the late 20th century the model changed mainly to cable distribution, which allowed many more channels and content, although the content was still mainly curated by a few content providers. Not much as changed since the cable evolution, although we are continuing to move from analogue to digital cable, with higher resolution moving images.
So what will television be in the future? Television as we now know it will become antiquated rather quickly, and be replaced by a medium that is fluid, dynamic, and has a natural human interface making content easily searchable, and on-demand, able to watch anywhere and anytime. We already have many of the basic elements of the ‘future television’ today, but it will continue to evolve, and eventually evolve into a form which is the dominant process of how we recognize and consume ‘television’.
Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group wrote a white paper on the future of television after having in-depth discussions from industry leaders and researchers. They summarized the results in a list of ten features.
1. Channels Go Away
2. Kiss the Remote Goodbye
3. Screens Do Anything, Anywhere
4. Ads Get Personal
5. Don’t Just Watch–Get Involved
6. Watch Together, Virtually
7. Is It Real, or Is It Television?
8. Your TV Follows You
9. “Regular Joes” Go Hollywood
10. Creation Goes Viral
For many of us, we are already living multiple versions of these ‘futures’. The difference is that soon they will become the dominate form of how our greater society consumes media. Why is Cisco interested in this? They are interested in profiting from the “Business Models in Flux”:
Television’ s current business model is delicately constructed, with many players and numerous,
interdependent revenue streams. Parts of the experience that we have grown to accept as
core— $70-plus monthly subscription packages; programming across hundreds of channels;
the 30-second TV commercial; delayed release windows for DVDs; free premium shows on the
Internet—are all a result of the business model in place today. That model is under pressure,
and while there is a great deal of debate and disagreement among industry experts about
exactly how it will evolve, there is no question that it will change dramatically over the next five to
The views among experts were varied:
● Forty-six percent thought the role of carriage fees in the business model would become
less important, and the other 54 percent disagreed.
● Thirty-eight percent believed that advertising would play a less important role in the
business model; the remaining 62 percent disagreed.
● Thirty-eight percent thought government sponsorship of public channels would play a
less important role, while the remaining 62 percent held a different opinion.
However, most experts ag reed that in the future, consumers would enjoy more flexibility in how
they purchase TV. Eighty percent of respondents felt that consumers would have the flexibility to
build their own TV subscription packages by adding only content they want
Needless to say, some great companies will fall during this transition, and some great companies will rise.
You can download the white paper here.
Most of the content providers of television are lobbying for, and backing, SOPA and PIPA, as a way to insure their dominance in the future. It is sad to see these companies spend millions on trying to change the law, instead of inventing the future. The only thing that stays the same is change, and many of these large corporations do not know how. Maybe part of the reason why these mega conglomerate corporations are spending their money in the wrong places is because of the idea of ‘maximizing shareholder value’, a late 20th century corporate ideal, that may need to be rethought. Apparently it may be cheaper for large media corporations to buy congress rather than evolving their antiquating business models, that are currently becoming unsustainable.
White Paper via Inventing the Medium
One of the claims that studios make is that they need legislation to stop piracy. The fact is piracy is rampant in all forms of commerce. Video games and software have been targets since their inception. Grocery and retail stores euphemistically call it shrinkage. Credit card companies call it fraud. But none use regulation as often as the movie studios to solve a business problem. And none are so willing to do collateral damage to other innovative industries (VCRs, DVRs, cloud storage and now the Internet itself.)
The studios don’t even pretend that this legislation benefits consumers. It’s all about protecting short-term profit.
When lawyers, MBAs and financial managers run your industry and your lobbyists are ex-Senators, understanding technology and innovation is not one of your core capabilities.
The SOPA bill (and DNS blocking) is what happens when someone with the title of anti-piracy or copyright lawyer has greater clout than your head of new technology. SOPA gives corporations unprecedented power to censor almost any site on the Internet.
History has shown that time and market forces provide equilibrium in balancing interests, whether the new technology is a video recorder, a personal computer, an MP3 player or now the Net. It’s prudent for courts and congress to exercise caution before restructuring liability theories for the purpose of addressing specific market abuses, despite their apparent present magnitude.