The Future of Television

This is how the dictionary defines "television":

tel"e"vi"sion n.
1. The transmission of visual images of moving and stationary objects, generally with accompanying sound, as electromagnetic waves and the reconversion of received waves into visual images.
2. a. An electronic apparatus that receives electromagnetic waves and displays the reconverted images on a screen.
b. The integrated audible and visible content of the electromagnetic waves received and converted by such an apparatus.
3. The industry of producing and broadcasting television programs.

Please take special note that nowhere in this definition do we hear mention of the box in your living room. The closest we come is with the phrase "electronic apparatus."

Welcome to the future, everyone!

For the last 12 years, we've all been saying how the Internet was going to affect consumer behavior and how television was changing as a result of the Web, but what we forgot to do was to look backward and see how we defined the terms we were using. If you examine the definition above, you'll see that whoever defined the term in the first place was much smarter than we were. They foresaw that television would simply be about the images, not the device through which they came. The Internet, technically, is the biggest form of television on the planet.



What we're seeing happen with the networks and the cable stations allowing their content to be made available online, is the natural evolution of television, not the death of TV. TV is not going to go away, it simply is allowing itself to morph and take advantage of technology to further engage the consumer and provide more points of distribution for its content. There will always be people who want to watch "CSI" when it's regularly scheduled, and there is a portion of the audience who will want to watch it when they want to watch it. In fact, this shift might expand the audience for some of the better shows.

The set in your living room, or your bedroom, is going to change over the coming years and will continue to shift to digital. You probably already have digital television from your cable company, or digital television from your satellite provider, and we hear whispers of IPTV as it becomes more and more significant, but in a wireless, digital world we can predict that TV will come in many more forms and will be available in even more places, allowing consumers to access content in ways they choose.

If you're involved in the television industry; as a producer in a studio or a buyer in advertising, you have to be feeling at least a semblance of the excitement that the interactive folks have felt for years. This represents a time of significant change and significant opportunity. It is a time that will define your business for the next 20 to 30 years.

The next wave of evolution for TV will involve consumers making their content available through more devices (this current shift is about the publishers distributing their content, but we know the Web is a self-publishing medium and consumers always finds a way to have their voice heard). Right now there are many sites online where users can express themselves and share their ideas; from MySpace and Friendster to Sharkle and YouTube. Over the coming years, we'll likely see "old-fashioned" TV adopt ways for users to broadcast their content into the living room (formerly the domain of the TV set). Imagine when any of these properties start creating video-on-demand stations through traditional cable!

The business is expanding and becoming a two-way street. Once again it's an exciting time to be involved in media. Let's call it the Renaissance all over again!

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