With smartphones and gadgets like Google Glass grabbing all the headlines, what some of us realize is the vast wasteland of bad reality shows, over-hyped sports events, and sensational specials we call TV is about to undergo a transformation that will forever end the viewing experience as you know it. And although tech companies like Google, Apple and Microsoft have been fiddling around with their idea of how to change TV for a few years now, it’s the big networks and pay television providers that are finally making some decisions to move TV land forward. What’s driving this change? Three biggies:
1. Viewers’ increasing multi-screen behavior — now their TV is just one screen in a world of many. People often watch TV while multi-tasking with their tablet or smartphone. More and more, people want to carry their TV shows with them, and continue watching from different locations.
2. TV execs have realized that you will actually pay for digital content. Paywalls on some online news sites such as the New York Times and revenue on iTunes and other digital marketplaces have shown the money guys that you will actually hand over your hard-earned dough for content. So, they will soon end free broadcast TV. You can start the death countdown now. Viewership on broadcast TV is at its lowest ever, down from 69% in 1993 to 42% this year, according to Nielsen.
3. Small startups like Aereo have begun to offer free access to broadcast TV over the Internet, and are winning court cases to stay alive.
After Aereo got a reprieve from a federal judge, News Corp is now considering going to cable only. And now, Intel is trying to design a new online TV service that will let you control more of your viewing experience.
The coming transformation of TV promises to offer you:
–De-bundling so you don’t have to pay huge monthly fees for just the few channels you actually watch.
–Easier discoverability through better interfaces
–Smarter content relevant to your viewing history
–Easier and more affordable subscription options
Of course, everyone is waiting for what Apple will do with its rumored TV. Will they just make hardware, or are they going full-on with hardware and content?
What all this says is there is no business model for TV right now. Programmers are unwilling to hand-over rights for online TV because they don’t know what to charge for it. But they know they don’t want to end up like the music industry when Napster came along, so they’re scrambling. Either way, you win. TV will transform based on the way you want to consume it. Stay tuned!