McAdams On: Gigabit TV
The future of TV—democracy defined
August 16, 2013
— Few topics generate
more angst in
the TV industry than
the future of the TV
industry. People generally don’t know
about antennas anymore, much less use
them, and they’re tired of doling out escalating
fees to pay providers notorious
for lousy customer service and recondite
billing terms. The irony of stalemated retransmission
negotiators depicting consumers
as victims, is that those are the
very folks defining the future of TV while
industry insiders spit nails at one another
in the media.
The future of TV is in the hands of the
people thanks to YouTube, smartphones
and broadband. So where does that take
us? What does the end game look like
and where does the money flow? And
how long will the carrier model endure?
Certainty No. 1: Current models are
under pressure from alternative IP based
delivery. No. 2: Current models
still generate a truckload of revenue and
are not going away overnight. No. 3: As
bandwidth is built out and made more
efficient, subscriber flight will escalate.
No. 4: Content creators (not owners,
but creators) will have to shake tin cups
The typical response is to circle the
wagons. There’s not much else to do
if you’re heavily leveraged or the revenue
stream is too massive to risk. But
doing so further alienates a public increasingly
happy to define “local” as
social media circles, and “content” as
the stuff being shared.
The future of TV rests on two premises:
Behavior and bits. Knowing on a
granular level how people interact with
media is key—not just from big data
consideration of all delivery systems as
bit pipes is the other. The question then
becomes, what can TV providers do to
maximize their bit pipes in accordance
with user behavior?
The answer may ultimately have nothing
to do with TV as we now know it.
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