Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Future of TV

“You’ve gotta move forward … as soon as you can figure out what that means.”                             Don Draper in Mad Men, Season 2, Six Month Leave

Abstract: TV is a very important medium in our life and the TV industry has been always changing and adopting new ways and technologies. This time, the change is big and will take the “TV product” that TV stations and media companies are offering to a different level. This might be alarming for some people, but we believe it will lead to more control and better experiences for consumers. It also can be great news for the prepared brands.

Like Everything Else, TV Is Changing

New trends and technologies are changing the way we live, interact and consume everything including TV programs, news and content. If the television set has given its name to a whole industry of content producers, media houses and broadcasters with all the companies and jobs that revolve around them; the same TV set is not going to remain our main tool for news, movies and entertainment watching.

Moreover, consumers’ relationship with TV watching is also changing. Technology innovations are actually going in the right direction, as we see it at least, and giving consumers more and more control over their content consumption as well as their relationship with their preferred programs and stations. The more technology will develop, the faster the current TV model will evolve to give place to a more personalized TV experience.

Things are bound to change; either by throwing all these elements in the “market pot” and wait for a new balance to come out; or by actively contributing to creating the future of the TV business with one clear objective in mind: to offer customers a better experience – Money and success usually should follow. 

TV Media Business

This curve jumping change is also going to change the nature of the TV ad business. The products and the tools of the TV media sales will not be the same.

·         The “holy grid” of TV stations is eventually going to disappear.

·         Linear TV model for All where the stations and the network control the delivery is going to shift into a more personal and flexible TV experience that is more controlled by the viewer.

·         The new TV experience will go outside the current home viewing setting thanks to the growing coverage of Wi-Fi and mobile internet.

·         Telecom companies will be in a position to provide the backbone and delivery networks for TV services and will be able to claim a bigger cut of the market.

·         Global brands like Google and Apple might come up with complete ecosystems for their TV experience that can bypass many players in the current chain.

·         Channels will be replaced by applications (that will offer a new experience and on multiple viewing devices including smart TVs)

·         Waiting for TV programs, and having to watch advertisements will become something of the past if not from the past already in some other markets.

In addition to TV stations, the TV related media business would have to reinvent itself. It also can take the lead in change in order to maintain the competitive edge of the brands they represent.

TV stations that are funded by governments do not follow the same market dynamics and do not have the same concerns; but eventually will embrace the same technology and the same consumption mode.

With the disappearance of the linear model, TV advertising and the whole model of TV monetization will need to be reinvented to link the new TV experience with a fair economic model that is good for both the TV industry and for the consumer who is used to Free TV in many markets. The way we see the future model is a combination of a lot of free general content combined with very affordable paid premium content whether through subscriptions or advertising.

Consumers will be able to customize their viewing experience, using their online profiles across different devices and platforms which will offer marketers with new possibilities for accurate consumer segmentation and profiling.

Create Content and Adapt Content

The change is not going only to affect the TV consumption mode and TV advertising but will also need a new strategy for Content.

Viewing time, place, mode, and device will all have their influence on content consumption and the type and format of this content.

Besides political and business News that has to be Immediate, Accurate and Insightful, but will fade very fast; other types of content will have a longer shelf-life, and even they can have many lives through reruns, re-diffusion, dubbing and adaptation to different markets and different audiences around the globe.

Here we are still talking about the same old formats of movies, series and entertainment programs in initially designed to be consumed via a TV set facing people on a couch with relatively an uncompromised attention.

However, this is not going to be the only consumption mode. Therefore, content has to be adapted and new content created for different devices, occasions, timing and places.

The new TV consumption devices are highly reliant on broadband and Wi-Fi and have smaller screens, and follow a different consumption mode especially for smartphones that are by nature used “on-the-go” “when people do not have the kind of time and attention compared to traditional viewing scenarios.

Factors like these will command new content or new formats of the same content.

The Drive of Change

Change is not something we fear and try our best to deal with it when it comes. Change is the real market driver that will keep pushing brands and businesses to constantly improve and deliver better products and services to consumers.

Even more, change is more likely to happen when we are not satisfied with the status quo, or the current state of things or technology. Change is necessary for each and every category to keep improving, offering better products and better services.

For brands with clear purpose and real consumer focus, the drive for change is the desire to offer a better consumer experience with every new product and service. This is what differentiate between brands that are driven only by the economic side of things and those that are keeping an eye on a mission beyond business that can varies in terms of the articulated “mission statement” but at the end it will contribute to same objective.

What Could Be exactly the Future of TV if left to reactive corporate decisions? – It will be difficult to predict.

However, what “Should Be” the future of TV for innovative and inspiring brands? – We can give you some hints about it:

·         The Future of TV is more enjoyable, more personal and more rewarding.

·         The Future of TV is more flexible and can happen anywhere anytime.

·         The Future of TV is going to be free or very affordable for some premium services.

·         The Future of TV is going to be more diversified with programs adapted to small screens, big screens, long viewership, short viewership, high attention, low attention, etc.)

·         The Future of TV is going to need a new format for advertising or monetization in general.

 Now, what choices do we have? – Wait or Innovate.

Wait or Innovate

If “the best way to predict the future is to invent it”, the best way to deal with the changing TV scene is to be part of this change and innovate instead of being forced to adapt to innovations.

Let us offer consumers new and more enjoyable experiences instead of keeping them imprisoned in an old system.

The only two alternatives available for all the players in the industry are Wait or Innovate.

Wait until others try the new models then follow with some learning or, Innovate, lead the way and be the first to come up with new offerings and better experiences for consumers.

We usually expect the market leaders to innovate invent and come up with new ideas and systems. But the good news is that you do not necessarily have to be the market leader or the biggest player in the category to reinvent the category.

Nokia, was not the inventor of mobile phones when it managed to ride on a booming category to the top of the world. Falling from the top was very hard; but that is a different discussion.

Apple was not even a mobile phone brand when it entered the market with innovative and enchanting products that changed the mobile phone category forever.

Red Bull was not the market leader in beverages, when it created a completely new market and changed the category forever.

Tesla was not the market leader in automotive when it has managed to change many old perceptions about the electrical car through innovation and “visionary common sense”. Now the market leaders are catching up while they had all the time and resources to be first.

The same applies for TV. Globally the best innovations are not coming from the biggest networks. On a regional level, the next TV market leader position is still up for grabs.


manifesto is a consulting firm that deals with brand strategy, innovation and communication.


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