Television Prepares For Brave New Tech World At Conference

The New York TV of Tomorrow (TVOT) conference, set for Dec. 7, promises to offer the most cutting-edge trends in media today.

I sat down with Tracy Swedlow, co-founder and CEO of TMRW Corp., the company that owns InteractiveTV Today and the TV of Tomorrow Show conferences, to discuss this year’s meeting.

(This conversation has been edited and condensed.)

Charlene Weisler: What makes this TVOT different from previous TVOTs?

Tracy Swedlow: This year we have a very broad array of participating companies, including many in the show for the first time, such as Amazon, Visa, MGM and IBM Watson Media, which I think attests to the growing importance of the advanced-TV/video industry as a whole, and the increasing number of areas impacted by it.

Weisler: What are the major topics for this year?

Swedlow: We always cover OTT, advanced advertising, content, measurement, data, etc.



This year we are also doing a mini-track on potential repercussions/effects of ATSC 3.0, which is a broadcaster tech that people believe will transform the TV industry at large.

Another area is artificial intelligence: the way it is being deployed, how it is being utilized, and what companies are planning to do with the technology. Data and the use of AI software are going to influence every aspect of TV experience, with everything from content being suggested to you, to how your TV is programmed, to the kinds of advertising you see.

Some other areas we'll be focusing on are the rise of diginets, the increasing importance of social-video creators/influencers, 360-VR film making, and the future of the TV viewing experience.

Weisler: What are the major challenges to TV in the next three years?

Swedlow: ATSC 3.0 is coming on very strong. It has the potential to completely change the local TV landscape, but the challenge lies in how will the industry be able to
collaborate on the standard.

Devices will need a special chip to make ATSC 3.0 happen — and how long will it take for that to reach critical mass? Will consumers be willing to buy the new ATSC 3.0 chip devices?

Another area is in OTT.  There is a huge amount of content on the market with so many platforms trying to scale and find a customer base, while customers are trying to figure out what service works best for them. The result has been a lot of confusion for consumers and the creation of the binge-and-bolt dynamic, where people sign up for a particular service to view one series and then cancel it once that series is over.

So, ultimately all of these platforms are dealing with retention issues and trying to figure out how they can prevent all these cancellations — or else develop new business strategies that embrace the fact that high churn rates are now normal.

Then of course there is measurement, tracking and data which is always a challenge, with companies still trying to figure out how best to track viewership across platforms, how to relate viewing data to purchase behavior, how to share it and what to share (i.e., privacy issues). We believe AI will play a significant role in the future of this area.

Weisler: Is linear TV dead, evolving or doing just fine as it is?

Swedlow: In fact, it is doing more than just fine. Right now, for example, diginets are emerging as a major new area of innovation in content and advertising.

Also, ATSC 3.0 — which basically brings IP to broadcast — has the potential to bring rich interactivity to linear TV. It likely means that linear, interactive and on-demand are going to combine in unusual ways.

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