Television has been a staple part of our entertainment diet for the last 50 years, but increasing numbers of viewers are migrating to other media platforms. This doesn't mean an end to television content, but the beginning of a new life for that content. This signal explores how we'll get our telly fix in the post-digital world: what the TV – internet merger will look like and how it will be greater than the sum of its parts.
TechCrunch reports that Microsoft 'is in talks with HBO and Showtime to broadcast and sell a la carte video through the Xbox'. This could potentially be very big, not least for these reasons they enumerate:
For better or worse, the “channel” – meaning a group of programs that appear one after the other interspersed with commercials – may be going away.
Working with the XBox team on this is a boon for both HBO and Microsoft. HBO gets a new subscriber based addicted to their programming while Microsoft becomes known as the first company to dismantle the decades old cable companies.
Imagine not being tied to traditional 'channel' programming. Exciting indeed.
A news program has opinions, news items (which might contain locations, types of events etc), issues, methods of finding out more. A news story itself might be part of a bigger feature, which has related stories, or they may be stories that are part of a larger story.
Cable TV seems to be doing OK financially despite high costs to the viewer, but it seeems to be heading into the sphere of irrelevance. In the wake of alternatives like Netflix streaming, YouTube, Hulu and Boxee, as this article says:
...consumers are less satisfied with the monthly pay-TV bills and cable subscribers are more likely to feel ripped off than telcom or satellite TV customers.
The game is not over for cable TV yet - but I think it may well be getting there.
The battle is heating up, and this article in TechCrunch says it's all down to HTML, and amongst other things that there's no point in focussing on web apps because the place to be is on the web, and not on the phone.
For most people, Google TV vs. Apple TV is about something different. They are fighting a war for capturing people at the hardware and operating system levels. Apple is succeeding in selling hardware by locking people in with an integrated operating system, while Google is capturing people on the operating system level, with Android, and then integrating Google services from there. Google is giving Android away for free so they can tag along for the ride.
Also, the one thing the two do share in common? The H.264 video format.
This post about the future of television is so detailed that summarising it here would do it gross injustice. Suffice to say that Mark Suster, a two-time entrepreneur and now venture capitalist, has looked in detail at the current players and what they can do for TV. He is of the opinion that the true state of the digital living room will take 5-10 years to take shape and 2011 will be an important year. Other thoughts:
- Apple TV won't be the full solution even if it is at an accessible price point
- The smartest TV hardware providers will be the ones that sign deals with tech startups
- Social TV's and the 'second screen' will be expected TV features for the millennials
- Content bundling will become passe
- We'll see the rise of what Mark calls 'torso TV' - niche content offering like Japanese anime and Bollywood films
- YouTube will be part of the business model for the TV of the future because it provides so much to so many so easily
- Content discovery will be a key service mechanism as we attempt to navigate the vast sea of TV programming
- Gaming and social media will find their ways onto our screens in ways that are far better than the options we have now
- And last but not the least, he brings up the role of the narrative - transmedia projects will certainly have a role to play
Don't put apps before content. That was the message from Jeremy Toeman of Stage Two in a recent Mashable blog post criticising device makers in the connected TV space for getting distracted by apps. As if plonking Facebook and Twitter onto a wired TV suddenly makes it irresistable. It doesn't.
What if it didn’t feel like Twitter at all?
Twitter in its web format doesn't offer anything to the TV experience but the information it provides could be put to more innovative use. As Jeremy points out, installing apps on connected TVs will only be appealing if they are used to enrich the content experience. Because it's the content that draws people in.
Tell a story. Engage people’s emotions. Draw users in by making technology personal. The average user doesn’t get excited that his or her TV has a Flickr app. But most people would like to see photos of their friends and family on the TV. Average users can’t easily identify with a Pandora app, but the idea of your TV playing the kind of music you want to hear sounds appealing. There’s probably even a place for showing pictures of cats with funny captions — just don’t call it an app.
It's also content that differentiates the experience for consumers. Watching TV is a fundamentally different experience to using your iPhone or laptop. Manufacturers of internet-enabled TV shouldn't forget that.
Our friends at Mint Digital hosted an entertaining evening at Conway Hall last Thursday with some super smart folks talking about the phenomenon of the second screen and its relationship with TV viewing: 2Screen - Make an event out of TV.
Illustration credit: "Split Attention", Dar Freeland, http://www.faceupstudio.com/blahg/