So, what is television today?
It’s always a controversial topic depending who is a part of the conversation.
However, there’s always one thing that’s consistent; whether together in groups as in the past, but more and more today where each person has the power and ability to review, edit and share content as one, the TV is more than a box and it is in the process of changing…in a big way.
Now that we can specifically target content to an individuals interest through data association and use behavior, thus delivering messages directly to that person, the value of CPM is eroding. It’s literally how many and who they are. It may be in the millions, but more than likely in the thousands and it just happens to be that those thousands are exactly who want the advertiser’s message. And let’s not ever forget that advertising is and will be still critical in providing programming.
So, the big takeaway is that television seems to have finally transitioned from the “delivery box” to a veritable state of mind, a programming option where no screen is primary. What is television today and what are the challenges to the current business model? Here are some thoughts:
1. There are marked generational differences in television usage. Television has two answers: a professional and a personal one. At work is program content: the creative. At home with kids, it is hardware-based. They spend less time on the primary household screen but consume large amounts of content on second screens.
2. Let’s not talk about the “second screen” — there is only one screen. Among Millennials, the first screen of choice may not be the television set. It might be the tablet or mobile. Is there really a “second screen” anymore? Isn’t it just “The Screen”? Kids say that all you need for television is WiFi. And if you use the second screen, it is the first screen for you. For the rest of the 90% of the world it’s still in the TV in the living room and will be for some time. That TV though will be other devices gateway.
3. More programming sources expand consumption; time is flexible and expandable. Will there be more competition for viewers’ time, since all of this new content — from Netflix, Yahoo, AOL, YouTube and other sources — needs to fit within the time that the average viewer allots for television entertainment? Not necessarily. Video is invading other spheres of life. We are expanding the hours used for entertainment offering a solution for consumers and insert a video in their day. In this way we are redefining TV, with consumers consuming video in new places, in new ways and when they ‘need’ it perhaps educationally.
4. Measurement is (still) key. No matter how you define television, new sources of content make no impact unless you can measure them all properly and precisely. Measurement has not kept up with the way content is being delivered, and the concept of rating may not be as relevant today as it was in previous years. CPM may be less of an issue if actual behavior is measured in terms of reach and frequency. How can you monetize it if you can’t measure it? A big step forward is asset-identification coding that facilitates automatic content recognition across all screens. But everything is still in process, with no accepted direction as of yet.
5. The borders may soon be shifting. While the virtual MSO may still be in development, it does have the potential to upend the business model and change the viewing landscape.
6. Storytelling is better than technology — but give technology its due. Even with all the new and ever-expanding range of viewing platforms, nothing is as important as being able to offer great and compelling content, as long as it is in context and is easily received. The core of success is great storytelling — but what works on linear might not work on YouTube, especially generationally, and it should be form -factor appropriate.
7. New programming (and advertising) experimentations. We are at the beginning of an unprecedented time of programming experimentation. The half hour sitcom is no longer driven to fill in the gaps for ads and the 30 second ad now the potential be much more.
8. But old programming has a great value, too. Decades worth of content is going to find a place to live…in all markets including developing countries. A tremendous opportunity in affordable viewing!
9. TV Everywhere is a temporary advantage for MSOs, at best. Since consumers want content and don’t really care about the delivery provider traditional model will go away since kids don’t feel the need to be subscribers.” And what about delivery via IPTV? Another tremendous opportunity!
10. Celebrity participation helps drive appeal. It was agreed that celebrity involvement helps in attracting audience and attention. Still, what’s the definition of celebrity? Key influencers don’t have to be a household name but they can influence popularity. Not a bad thing.
We are in a tremendous period of global societal shift. As an industry we do have a responsibility, not just to generate revenue for our companies, but to help the market embrace the possibility of providing what viewers want. By doing so we will all benefit both economically, as well as and especially culturally.