The reinvention of audience behavior accelerated by COVID-19 means the TV industry must not simply restart, but reset.
What's wrong with TV? Nothing. It has become our perfect pandemic partner.
We've gorged on "The Mandalorian" in two Disney+ sittings, surfed old horror films on Pluto TV, binged on "The Outsider" on HBO, talked about Netflix's "Tiger King" on every Zoom call, and have Amazon Prime queues and Roku channel lists that'll keep us glued to our Samsung Smart TVs at least through November.
TV couldn't be better. It's our television industry that needs to adapt.
Why change now? Because the future of video has already begun
The television industry's new generation of leaders universally admit it's not working anymore. Advertising doesn't work. Profits, especially in pay TV, are harder to sustain.
The COVID-19 crisis has only accelerated those trends. Even as consumers spend more time in front of screens, it's harder than ever for advertisers, studios, stations, and networks to make money. Even as we begin to emerge from the crisis, big national TV buys don't make sense. America will go back to work state by state and region by region, with sudden stops and starts.
To succeed, we need to not just restart but to re-imagine the industry -- to fix things about buying video that have been broken for a long time.
Buyers want to buy. They love everything video has to offer. The power of sight, sound, and motion. The ability to reach huge audiences and narrow ones. The ability to drive real outcomes.
But buyers are sick of the maddening tangle of complex technologies, contradictory measurement structures, and dense legal documents that come with it.
Since the industry already has thrilled customers with the new plethora of programming, the obvious next step is to make buyers every bit as happy.
What we need to do differently -- and do together
But hasn't the industry done all this before? Yes. Too many times. But whether we've gathered as television competitors or as cross-industry colleagues, the industry has always followed the same naive, doomed pattern.
Big, hairy audacious goals that instantly crash into roadblocks at entrenched positions.
As it turns out, transforming a hugely successful $70-billion-dollar industry overnight is harder than it looks. Who knew?
It's clear that nothing will happen unless we first agree on basic principles, and bite off LESS than we can chew. Here are the principles we suggest:
Change isn't easy in any industry this large.
But there is a proven way to do it, in a way that minimizes disruption, builds confidence, and sets the stage for long-term success. OpenAP, GARM, and DAA are all examples of the industry getting the change process right.
We are calling on the entire industry to join us at iab.com/tele-visionreset, to help set the next stage of the video industry's success.
TV has been fantastic for viewers during the pandemic.
Let's make it every bit as good for buyers -- and sellers -- as we emerge from it.