The Perilous Future of Television

The Perilous Future of Television
Nicko Margolies
  • 13 april 2009

Over the past decade traditional television content has quickly migrated to our computers and as consumers demand easier access to media, major content providers are clamoring to be ahead of the curve.  Entertainment industry executives met at conference earlier this year hoping not to get caught off guard like the music and newspaper industries, but a dominant solution has yet to surface.  The Future of Television conference, hosted by Digital Media Wire, brought together an impressive collection of speakers who struggled to come to a coherent conclusion.

The business model of TV advertising has struggled to transfer successfully onto the internet as consumers seek out ease of use and quick results for their favorite content.  Local stations have been hit particularly hard by the shift in mediums.  The recent downturn of the financial and auto industries have disproportionately damaged local stations who rely heavily on these big buyers for advertising revenue.  Television shows were some of the first forms of video content to appear online and viewers are quick to seek out episodes they’ve missed on their computers.  Websites like and Hulu have partnered with major entertainment groups to bring traditional television media online and available to loyal viewers with minimal commercial interruption.  The trick is bring these viewers back into the living room to utilize the rich content through their TVs.

This seemingly dangerous forecast for television has a possible upside as consumers are spending over eight hours a day in front of screens.  The next step is to make internet streaming and on-demand services profitable enough to retain advertising revenue while fulfilling the consumer’s desire to avoid monthly fees.  A recent article at Content Agenda addressed the state of television’s advertising revenue stream:

“TV advertising is still healthy and strong, but we’re at an interesting point,” said Bill Bradford, senior vice president and chief product officer for Fox Digital Media. “Content is now being consumed on many different platforms. We haven’t hit critical mass yet on all these platforms, but it does have people asking what is going to happen when we hit that tipping point.”

Fortunately, these services are in full swing.  Unfortunately, there is a plethora of options and no clear winner.  An early contender was the Apple TV, which is greatly improved by add-ons like Boxee, but it struggles to provide users enough current content to rival what a cable service provides.  Two new contenders are looking promising as major entertainment producers are joining their promise to deliver vast amounts of content.  Sezmi, which hopes to launch in a few months, is a digital media player that brings together broadcast and cable media with movies and internet video.  The company is actively looking for advertisers and is currently testing the service.  Another contender is ZillionTV, launching this year, which has the support of five major Hollywood studios and plans to boast 15,000 movie titles in its web-based service.  ZillionTV doesn’t seem to come with a set-top box, but will likely integrate with other products.

It’s hard to say what’s in store for our televisions, but all the industry pandemonium seems to be yielding to the demands of the consumer and, in our opinion, that is always a good thing.

[image via Flickr]

[via Content Agenda]


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