As we approach the much-heralded dawn of the Digital Age in our televisual lives, many of us are having fun (others are having anxiety attacks) pontificating on just how the advent of various digital capabilities will affect and change the viewing proposition and related business models.
There has been much written (and rightly so) about the huge and inevitable impact that set-top-box data will have on the measurement of TV viewing. But for the purposes of this column, I'm more interested in some of the other promises of digital TV that leverage the return path to offer different and more personalized viewing experiences.
The issue of personalization -- to one extent or another -- is always high on the agenda when discussing such potential. Any form of on-demand viewing represents a kind of personalization, albeit very basic, in that it caters to the need or desire to watch the content of choice and the time of choice (or convenience). However, there is much more in play here.
For many years already, tennis fans in the U.K. have been able to select from a menu of matches they want to watch at any given time during the BBC's Wimbledon coverage (a huge change from the relative constraints of only being able to watch the matches chosen by the BBC as the most interesting at the time).
Many of us have projected to a point in the none-too-distant future when the Google News aggregation service so familiar online turns up on our TVs, with subject-matter priorities and even news source priorities that we can set using our remote controls. The major difference, of course, would be that instead of text, we'd be looking at video. The promise of digital TV brings this trend that much closer to reality, if the parties concerned wish to pursue it.
Today, however, I received an email that prompted me to take this line of thinking a little further. Many of you will know Kluster.com, the site that functions rather like a collaborative social network based around brainstorming and concept ideation. Well, it has now launched Knewsroom, which not only allows its users to nominate stories of interest for inclusion in the next day's "publication," but also "invest" points in stories they particularly favor -- with the promise of a return if their invested story is included next day. Even more intriguing is the promise of a percentage of the ad revenue generated.
This is interesting in its own right. It somehow manages to mix news with the fun of game-play and investment -- wanna be a micro day-trader in news, anyone? Yet it's even more interesting to think about how this concept could play out in a TV environment. As with Google News above, substitute text for video, make it remote-friendly -- and it really would mess with all conventional notions of TV news and how it's distributed.
Fanciful, yes, but we really can't say with much certainty what is going to happen as the return path becomes a feature of more and more American homes and lives, nor just how our current younger generations are going to want to use screen-based media.