That’s what live television is these days — just a starting point. On-demand viewing behaviors, which have been reshaping television since the first TiVo DVR was shipped in 1999, are becoming more pronounced with each passing year, sometimes to the benefit of networks and advertisers and other times to their detriment.
But now that the shared TV experience is declining, many thinkers want it back. Only now can they appreciate its value and see what it gave us: The communal bonding that occurs when people sit down and watch the same thing.
Ryan Tate in an article for WIRED, “The Personal Television Revolution is Horrifying—and Brilliant”.
I thought — hoped, really — that I was worrying too much about new technology, so I called Patricia Greenfield, Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles. I asked: Do tech-savvy people in healthy relationships (like, say, me) really need to worry that customized media and mobile devices will undermine our connections with others?
“I think you should worry,” Greenfield told me.
Television is television, no matter what pipe brings it to the screen.
Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, as quoted in the New York Times last week. The company, which earned 14 Emmy nominations for its original content (including “Arrested Development,” “House of Cards,” “Orange is the New Black,” and “Hemlock Grove”), seems to have a firm grasp on what television will be like in the future.
Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO, released a letter to the investors for Q2, and revealed:
Beyond series, we will be expanding our Originals initiative to include broadly appealing feature documentaries and stand-up comedy specials. Netflix has become a big destination for fans of these much loved and often under-distributed genres.
The problem, he said, that traditional media has with online media is that ‘they don’t get you can’t just put plastic robot anchors on and expect people to take it seriously. The younger audience doesn’t buy it. That’s our advantage; we’re honest with the audience, and they can tell we’re real.’
Uygur is host and creator of “The Young Turks,” a political show on YouTube and carried by Current TV. The 42-year-old has built up a large and loyal fanbase in the last seven years. He does a daily live stream — “TYT” has 413,00 subscribers who have watched its videos a whopping 850 million times — and since December 2011, “TYT” has had a nightly one-hour show on Current TV. But Uygur, whose show is focused on politics, hasn’t stopped there. In the last two years, “TYT” has added eight other shows to its fledgling network, ranging from a film review show to a sports show and a college-focused show. The Young Turks Network is a modern video network, all owned and operated by Uygur and team, and it runs through YouTube.
Related: NPR’s special series on the future of TV: How We Watch What We Watch
Media groups may soon become casualties in the ‘platform wars’ or run over on the spectrum superhighways unless they are careful. That’s the gist of a series of reports from research firms, industry analysts AND the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom.
The ‘platform wars’ phrase comes from a report by the Forrester research group which says – get this – Microsoft is “winning the battle” for TV supremacy. The ‘spectrum superhighways’ phrase comes from the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology. A similar report from Britain’s House of Lords (seriously, the House of Lords) Select Committee on Communications goes even farther. It calls for television to be delivered completely on the Internet. “This may be a more sensible arrangement as spectrum is perfectly suited to mobile applications,” the report says. Interestingly, or oddly, depending on your point of view, this is even though the report acknowledges that one out of every six adults in the UK have never been online. The numbers are similar in the US.
Humorously, or oddly, again depending on your point of view, the US report says that while, yes, it’s true that the federal government uses lots of spectrum, “clearing just one 95MHz band… would take 10 years, cost some $18 Billion and cause significant disruption.” Surprise. Surprise.
So, to reach the goal set by the President of freeing up 500 MHz of spectrum for commercial use in ten years, the report says the best option is to “share” the spectrum paths. This is where the ‘superhighways’ analogy comes in. The report likens the situation to that facing the country in 1939 when FDR was president and another commission recommended the building of Interstate highways. This report argues that, just like the Interstates, spectrum can be set up with “the wireless equivalents of signals, sensors and stop lights to avoid collision.”
Regardless what either government does, or thinks it will do, the fact is that the system of delivering content — the ‘platforms’ — is going to change the media landscape significantly in the next ten years. The amount of global mobile data has doubled every year for the last four years. The number of mobile devices today is put at 5 Billion today but is expected to reach as much as 50 Billion by 2020. Remember – there are ‘only’ 7 Billion people in the whole world, and I suspect that many of those in third world countries are not on the Internet.
An eMarketer report said the “Big Four” on-line are Amazon, Google, Facebook and YouTube. Of course, the “Big Four” on-air are ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox. Which one of them will make it to the “Final Four.”
Well, add another twist to that. A report by Forrester Research says the ‘spoiler’ in all this is Microsoft. Its Xbox 360 is the most-watched net-connected TV device in the U S, and “soon the world.” Holy Mackerel! It says there are 32 Million consumer households watching online video on a TV in the US, with 18.4 Million using a game console. Of those, most are using the Xbox 360 which the report calls a “disruptive onslaught.” Here’s the critical line in the report that I suggest you all think about: “Each combatant has a consumer device strategy, to be sure, but it’s their platform strategies that will determine the TV winner in the long term.”
Which brings me back to the so-called “Smart TVs.” Technically, they are called IPTVs – Internet Protocol Television. There are twice as many of them this year than last. According to Nielsen, of the TVs in use, one out of 20 (4.7%) last year were IPTVs. As of February of this year, that percentage had more than doubled to 10.4%. BUT only 5% of that10.4% actually used the Internet capability. Now, my high school algebra teacher always gave me a hard time about my math skills, so I may be wrong — but the way I calculate this, that means only five out of every thousand television viewers are watching online video on their TVs. The figures are pretty much the same in the U.K. study as well.
But don’t write them off yet. A survey by consulting firm McKinsey of IPTV use in the UK and France says there are serious questions about their use and appeal. It echoes the US numbers with about a tenth buying Smart TV’s and only three percent actually using the function. They call the response in those countries as “lukewarm” at best. BUT (you will notice it’s in capital letters again), it projects IPTV sales to grow by 70% a year, and that they have the ‘potential’ to be ‘breakthrough.’
Now, if you’re a traditional broadcaster, you “know” you don’t need to worry. After all, as a story on the RapidTVNews site so aptly put it, being a couch potato is almost a full-time job. Why? Because another Nielsen study says Americans spend 35 hours a week just watching television. No Internet TV. Just TV. Local News-Two and a Half Men-Network News-American Idol-TV. After all, a study by a group called the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM) and comScore says 90% of consumers watch TV on a traditional set.
Oh, well, yes, it’s true that the report also shows that nearly two-thirds (60%) of “media companies’ viewers” were doing something online at the same time they watched TV. Another group, Futuresource Consulting, found similar figures but they also found that four out of five (85%) of 16 to 18 year olds used an “interactive device” while watching TV. And, well, yes, there are reports from firms like IMS Research that show a third (30%) of consumers want to buy a TV with Internet connection. And, well, yes, it’s true that a Harris Interactive poll found that streaming video apps are the most popular apps for the owners of web-connected TVs and non-web-connected places. And, well yes, it’s true that sites Huffington Post are starting their own online video news services. But you professional broadcasters don’t have to worry… do you?
I thought you were particularly photogenic that day.
Karl Rove, former George W. Bush advisor and founder of Crossroads GPS, to New York Times reporter John Harwood on why Crossroads used a clip of Harwood in an attack ad on Barack Obama. The footage used was a three second clip of Harwood explaining a job report on CNBC.
John Harwood, New York Times. More News Reports Show Up in Campaign Ads, to Journalists’ Chagrin.
Background: Harwood reports that more political ads this year are using footage from television news programs to lend “credibility” to the claims made in the spots.
“We try really hard to get credible third-party messengers to deliver facts,” Mark McKinnon, an ad producer who’s worked with Rove on campaigns, tells Harwood. “A fact coming from you is much more believable than a fact coming from us.”
Which is odd if you think about it seeing how shrill certain quarters are about how biased the mainstream media happens to be.