Commentary

TV Providers Want More Info About Viewers -- But Will They Pay The Price?

Earlier this week, my caller ID said "United Body Shop" -- but I picked up the phone anyway.

"Hello," I said. A male voice said: "Who is this?"

"Actually," I replied, "since you did the calling, you're the one responsible for identifying yourself first" --- which he then did.

There is a need for media to better identify who's calling -- and what they are actually selling. This is especially true for how those new areas of social and digital media will relate to television.

Media companies want to seed interest in TV shows, networks, and services, on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and other places -- but not everyone is interested n building a relationship with a brand. What's the payoff for me reading this tweet, or sampling that TV show?

View a viral video. Did it come from ABC, a happy fan, a silent TV network freelance "tastemaker," or a dispassionate prankster? 

You might be a user/viewer who instantly clicks on this stuff. Then again, you might be skeptical and move on.

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This may be the reason Journalism Online might work. The new Steve Brill-led venture will have consumers paying for real journalism, much as they do when they buy a real live newspaper. Journalism Online aims to sort out fact from fiction, distinguishing between professionally minded journalism and too many bloggers who haven't a clue, or their facts straight.

The key for future marketing of TV content will be whether those bits and pieces supposedly produced from real professional TV providers are really legit - and, more important, are what the viewers really want.

Cable operators think they are sitting on a gold mine when it comes to set-top-box data. But viewers aren't dumb. You want some of my personal information? You'd better be offering something decent in return.

Cable operators and all their TV Everywhere initiatives want "authentication" of users/viewers before allowing access.

Actually, the coaxial cable is in the other hands. Tell me who you are, what you are selling, and what's really in it for me.

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