TV Is THE Metaphor For Video's Future

  • by , Featured Contributor, March 12, 2020
The following was previously published in an earlier edition of Media Insider:

There were moments not long ago when many folks thought the future of video was the PC, or the tablet, or the phone, or even the hologram. It hasn’t played that way. In fact, the future of video is TV.

While lots of new devices today help deliver video to viewers, these new devices have neither supplanted television’s unique role in that task nor come as close as TV to shaping video content itself.  One could argue that the rise of streaming services has done more to affirm TV’s centrality to viewing content since the introduction of commercial television in the 1940s.

Netflix’s production of “The Irishman” and its three-and-one-half-hour run time was entirely created to be watched on home TVs, not theater screens, even with its token theatrical release schedule in a nod to Scorsese and “the talent,” ticking the box for Oscar and other award  considerations.



Sure, you can watch Amazon Prime’s “Jack Ryan” on your phone or tablet, but it was made for TV and that’s where the vast bulk of its viewership happens. Hulu tells us that 85% of Its viewership occurs on TV’s, which is why it has adopted Nielsen co-viewing ratings in its sale of ads.

Ironically, it has been the unbundling of video content from legacy production and distribution models that has now permitted all the major video players to build and deliver their products to the ultimate consumer, the viewer, and their favorite device, their TV.

Before, everything was siloed for the unique characteristics of each and every delivery channel such as broadcast and its FCC issues, cable, syndication, theatrical, and U.S. versus global rights, etc.

TV as the predominant video viewing choice has also been helped by the fact that big flat screens have not only been getting cheaper, but so much better, with improved picture quality, better sound, better interfaces — and, most importantly, better connectivity with plug-and-play connections to home WiFi and the internet.

Just watch what Google’s YouTube is doing. Leadership at YouTube, arguably the master of short-form and user-generated video, tells us that viewing of their content on television devices is up 39% this year over last.

Add that to the massive growth numbers The Trade Desk is reporting to Wall Street for connected TV ad sales (much of it on YouTube), and it’s quite clear the TV set will play a bigger and bigger role in shaping Google video ad strategy going forward.

What about video gaming? Over the past few years, we’ve seen an explosion of free-to-play games built for casual audiences and primarily for mobile usage. Think “Candy Crush,” et al. However, the newest generation of free-to-play games like “Fortnight” and “Apex” are device-agnostic, with very heavy play through console devices on TV.

Audiences for those games are massive, and the amount of their usage that occurs on TV devices is so big already that it dwarfs that of many of the U.S.’s largest television networks. One can only expect this trend to continue, and game publishers to build more and more for the TV set, particularly if the integrated advertising support that is happening in mobile gaming transitions with those games onto TV as well.

The future of TV as the defining device for the future of video is no longer tied to what TV networks, broadcasters and syndicators do. Nope, TV as THE metaphor for the future of video is stronger today than it has ever been at any point over the past 75+ years.

What to you think? Is TV THE metaphor for the future of video?

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