When Charles Dickens penned A Christmas Carol, he created the ultimate and original Grinch in Ebenezer Scrooge--a man so set against anything that could be construed as kind, generous or charitable in the supposed season of goodwill that it fell to the spirit world to set him straight. This most traditional of Christmas stories set me to thinking about how television and its role within the holiday season has evolved over the years and where it might be going: holiday TV past, present and future.
The single biggest problem confronting the television business today is not new media technologies, on-demand viewing or commercial avoidance. It is the dramatic and exponential increase in budgets that media companies are agreeing to invest in Nielsen data with absolutely no indication they will generate any return on these added investments. They are agreeing to spend more on Nielsen out of habit and a misguided belief they have no choice.
At a handful of conferences lately, it has been interesting to listen to the conviction with which an alarming number of media executives, consultants and pundits have declared that the telcos will not succeed in their attempts to break into the TV space with their IPTV offerings. Almost all of these commentators work within companies who stand to lose if the telcos succeed.
The 30-second commercial has begun a slow but inevitable slide into oblivion. Within five years, the :30 will have pretty much disappeared from television except as a vestige of the past in classic commercial programs and Web sites. The reasons are so simple and obvious that five years seems, in reality, too distant a timetable for the demise of today's predominant TV advertising format.