Commentary

Television In A Second-Screen World: Can It Adapt?

With all the talk about second screens and multiplatforms and the challenges ahead, it's a good time to reflect on where the television marketplace is headed. Robert Tercek of Creative Visions did just that at the recent Second Screen Summit in NYC. His Cassandra-like assessment of the state of television, called “Ten Things That Should Be Obvious But Apparently Are Not,” could stir fear in the hearts of some media executives.

Tercek is bullish on the media disruption just beginning to manifest.  He says that providers who do not embrace the future with all of its business uncertainties will soon be steamrolled by it. Are you someone who is afraid of disrupting the current business model for an unknown monetization future? Well, please stand back and get out of the way.

According to Tercek, all this fragmentation is causing gridlock, whether it is in content rollout or in measurement, and TV is fast becoming a bubble economy that could soon pop.  But rather than ignore the inevitable, can we as an industry put aside the status quo and start to think like disruptors?

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The old TV model does not serve us well in this brave new world and needs to be changed. For one thing, we need to stop serving advertisers at the expense of the audience. We tend to think, “How can we best monetize this new business paradigm?” But viewers are really in charge, with wherewithal to consume content when, where and how they want it, whether the media industry can monetize it or not.

In the three major generations of TV viewers, Boomers celebrated the invention of the remote control, which enabled easier navigation. Generation X welcomed the DVR, which further pushed personal viewing opportunities. Now, Millennials have Youtube and mobile video at their disposal -- which not only takes television off platform, it further enhances viewer control over their entertainment. Sense a trend here?

Among some of the more provocative conclusions:. 

--   Tercek says that “TV Everywhere is going nowhere.” It is a failed experiment, a defensive play by providers, “confusing and cumbersome” to viewers and ultimately “unsustainable.” 

--  “All video innovation is coming from beyond TV,” rendering the TV platform an also-ran, according to Tercek.

-- “Smart TV is dumb.” The smart home trumps smart TV. And it all comes down to mobile applications both in and out of the home.

--  “TV is an app” – which leads toward the migration of TV as we know it to mobile and the second platform. But large networks lose leverage when they release apps because they are suddenly competing with small interlopers. This “humbles prestigious brands,” since anyone with a personal brand can launch their own channel. In fact, “there are no barriers to entry.” You can launch a potentially major entertainment company on a shoestring, receive free collaboration and use a cloud service for scale.

--    There is a re-invigoration of print (something I have long believed), which can now transcend its format by offering video and audio.

--    Tercek says that “the Internet is big – really, really Big.”  Internet sites that you might never have heard of before are huge and growing quickly.

--    TV is fast becoming a subset of digital media, causing a shift in the power pyramid. Film used to be on top, followed by broadcast, cable and Internet. Now it is Internet and mobile on top, followed by cable, broadcast and film.

There is no turning back the media model to a simpler time when viewers were more beholden to the offerings of the major entertainment outlets. We’re now in a time of disruption, which can be as exciting as it can be upsetting. Complacence is not an option. Let’s start disrupting.

2 comments about "Television In A Second-Screen World: Can It Adapt? ".
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  1. Claudio Marcus from Visible World, August 1, 2013 at 7:10 a.m.

    Robert may be a very engaging speaker but his perspective on TV is biased by his own experience and does not align with consumer data about time spent viewing video.

    According to Nielsen's latest Cross-Platform Report, TV continues to be absolutely dominant (90% of all video viewing across all screens).
    http://www.nielsen.com/content/dam/corporate/us/en/reports-downloads/2013%20Reports/Q1-2013-Nielsen-Cross-Platform-Report.pdf

    Our own data-driven research based on more than 10+ Billion data points also confirms the dominance of the traditional TV platform.

    There is ample TV/video innovation going on, and that is a good thing. Technology is indeed bringing new capabilities, but consumer behavior continues to favor traditional TV viewing.

    It is easy to throw out provocative statements, but without deep, data-driven examination of video viewing behaviors (beyond our own and similar cohorts) such bravado lacks substance.

  2. Charlene Weisler from Writer, Media Consultant: WeislerMedia.blogspot.com, August 1, 2013 at 2:46 p.m.

    Hi Claudio,
    Thank you for your comment. You are one of several who have written about Robert's provocative statements.

    I have been emailing back and forth with Jack Wakshlag, CRO Turner, over some of Robert's declarations. Jack agrees with you that Robert has no evidence to prove his claims.

    As for me, I don't agree with everything but I see trends that are leading to some of his conclusions.

    I do believe that print has a great opportunity to transcend their format. I wrote about this a couple of years ago. Their ability to add video, sound etc places them in a new content opportunity position. I look forward to seeing what they can do to survive.

    I do believe that we need to embrace the changes in the industry rather than ignore them. In my career, about 8 years ago, I pleaded with the then COO to secure all rights to our content. (We were not doing so at the time - too expensive.) I saw that TV viewing would take place on computers (this was before tablets took off). He said that would never happen because we couldn't monetize it. Of course, monetization or not, it was happening anyway. So I am a big believer in facing and therefore trying to control or harness disruption before we get steamrolled by it.

    I also agree that Millennials have a very different viewing experience than my generation and therefore have different expectations. Thinking that media is the way it was when I grew up is not strategic to me.

    I have no opinion on TV Everywhere. His opinion on the subject seems extreme to me and one designed to create "discussion".

    Barriers to entry are fairly low and if viewers see every viewing option as an app, it may eventually get standardized. Not now, but who knows?

    All in all for me, lots to think about, agree and disagree with.

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