Tracy Swedlow And The Future Of Television

Tracy Swedlow is not only a futurist, she is also the founder of and energy behind the TV of Tomorrow (TVOT) event. This year’s conference in San Francisco, on June 28 and 29, is expected to offer a wealth of ideas and initiatives to manage and expand the media ecosystem.

Charlene Weisler: What do you see as the three biggest trends in media in the next year?

Tracy Swedlow: There are many things on the upswing, as this industry reinvents itself yearly, but three of the bigger ones we are seeing are:

-- Autonomous vehicles developing as a "new living room." The auto industry is not an area one would think of as being a focus for this show, but with today's drivers turning into tomorrow's riders, there is a large window opening for new forms of in-vehicle video experiences. We have a panel at the event discussing the possibilities for this new audience.

-- OTT. While not a new trend, given that 2017 saw an unprecedented rise in cord-cutting, it continues to be important for many reasons across content, advertisers, distribution and others within the ecosystem. We have numerous panels at the event touching on OTT and its continually evolving, increasingly important role--including the ways in which pay TV is now embracing OTT.



-- ATSC (Advanced Television Systems Committee) 3.0 standards have the potential to transform local broadcast TV and make local broadcasters key players in the TV of tomorrow. It will allow them to offer richer content, gather more granular data, and (thanks, for example, to its conditional-access features) adopt new business models. Given the excitement around this topic, we put together a session of experts to educate the market on the technology and its potential. We also have ATSC 3.0-focused keynotes from Chris Ripley, CEO of Sinclair Broadcast, and Sam Matheny, CTO of the National Association of Broadcasters.

Weisler: Is linear TV dead?

Swedlow: Linear is certainly not dead. I'm looking forward to seeing how local broadcasters reinvigorate the experience of linear TV by exploring new ATSC 3.0 opportunities. Also, many of the emerging OTT services are rolling out linear TV services alongside on-demand as a core part of their offering.
When prognosticating about the future, we always tend to think that a current technology or medium will be completely replaced by an emerging one. In fact, the [current tech] often persists and thrives. I'm sure that everyone was predicting that radio and movie theaters were going to disappear when TV came along, and that clearly hasn't been the case. Linear TV will still be a significant part of the TV experience, even if on-demand becomes the dominant form of TV consumption.

Weisler: What is the main theme of the conference this year?

Swedlow: I'm not sure that there's one overarching theme, in terms of a specific industry trend, as we cover multiple aspects of the advanced-TV/video/advertising industry.

However, one theme we're focusing on is that this event is a "gathering of superheroes" of the industry. We've done this because many of the speakers and attendees have been working for many years now on the innovations that we're showcasing now, never giving up their dreams of revolutionizing advertising, measurement, programming, content delivery, etc., even when those things were viewed by others with a lot of skepticism, and it looked like the obstacles to realizing their visions were almost insurmountable.

We've been covering this industry for nearly 20 years now, so we're very well aware of the super-heroic efforts people have made to bring about the various TV and video innovations that we're seeing today.

Weisler: What are some of the companies represented at this year's conference?

Swedlow: It is a wide range that spans the entire ecosystem — broadcasters, showrunners, ad agencies and brands, hardware manufacturers, media conglomerates, VR/AR companies and many more. Examples include: Coca-Cola, Best Buy, comScore, Walmart, Viacom, NBC Universal, Turner, TCM, Fox, the showrunner of Amazon’s "Man in the High Castle," MediaVest, Sinclair Broadcast Group, USA Today, Omnicom, Publicis and TiVo.

Weisler: What’s the state of standardized cross-platform measurement?

Swedlow: I'm not a true expert on this topic, but we will be featuring it in depth at TVOT as always. We are getting closer and closer to being able to do this, but there are certain key currencies, standards and technologies that need to be more transparent and in place to do so.

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