The Idiot Box: Disrupting TV

There has been a lot written in recent months about the changing role of content on the web and devices, particularly recently with Apple's acquisition of Beats (things just aint the same for gangsters) - and Benedict Evans recently wrote questioning whether content is actually still king. And I think we can agree he makes a good point, when it comes to music, it is no longer a USP, its just expected. Between YouTube, SoundCloud, Spotify, Google's Play services etc there is no reason people can't just stream any music they like, fairly seamlessly, and switch between providers/apps just as easily.  Apple had invested massively in iTunes, but the iTunes buy-download model isn't what people want any more (hence buying Beats, actually for their streaming service maybe).


A more interesting area is Television - content is still a key factor, NetFlix, Amazon Instant(formerly LoveFilm) etc are largely compared entirely based on their content - as a service there is little between them, other than content.  So really it's no suprise to see all the normal big players getting involved in the market Google (ChromeCast etc), Amazon Instant, Apple TV.

Within 5years I think we will see a massive shift in viewing patterns, with pretty much all new TVs sold today being web-enabled I think its an inevitability that people will move to all on-demand services rather than being dependent on scheduled programming. Within a further 5years I wouldn't be surprised if scheduled programming was all but dead and gone.

We recently bought a NowTV box - at just £10 its a pretty low barrier to web-enabling your TV - and we have pretty much switched over to entirely on-demand service - despite having a PVR we still go for the on demand options.


I think there will be some interesting things that come from this:

Platform Fragmentation

I think this is the biggest problem facing the market at the moment, and to me looks like a massive opportunity. At the moment there is so much fragmentation across the platform: Playstations, Xbox, Android, iOS, TVs (Sony, Samsung, etc) - all have their own platforms, and any on-demand service that wants to offer an app on every platform needs work from either the platform owners or the service providers - if its the platform owner then the provider looses control of UI/UX app features and consistency across platforms, and if its the service provider then they have a lot of work to do to support the different platforms, and they will inevitably have to make decisions whether or not to bother with each platform.

At the moment, in the UK, if you buy a web-enabled device then you can't guarantee that it will have the basic UK free-to-air OD services (BBC, ITV, Channel4, Channel5) - When I bought the NowTV it didn't have Channel4 apps and still doesn't have ITV (and that's a platform backed by BSkyB, which is a fairly large organisation and platform). There are already some Sony TVs that are no longer supported and provider apps are no longer being developed/maintained/supported. 

Android and iOS aside, all platforms will suffer this problem - that is until someone comes with a platform standard/OS that is open and can be re-used across devices. And given Android's prevalence, and Google's investment in TV it would seem like the best placed candidate to tackle that, but let's see!


What is driving creation production?

With scheduled TV there are quiet times, early hours of the morning, working week daytime - and content is created for that specifically. Providers have to each fill their schedules for these hours, so these are commissioned/bought/run.  However, if scheduling was to end, and it was all on-demand then would people still make this content? I'm sure there will still be a demand for some of this content, but people who watch it just because its on will obviously diminish. Students in the UK have had a tradition of watching daytime TV, whether it be Countdown, Diagnosis Murder or Quincy - but in the era of on-demand why would they search out this content? 


rob hinds

I'm on to the next one, on to the next one..

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