The Experts Talk About the TV of Tomorrow

For my first column of the New Year, I always like to look back in order to look ahead. What do media executives – those on the front lines - see as the future of television? This year, instead of going through some of my past interviews, I have compiled a sizzle reel of predictions from participants at the TV of Tomorrow conference held in December.  You can view the entire video here ...

... and the following is a short list of predicted trends:

TV is Definitely Changing
There is general agreement among the experts that TV in the truest sense of the word is not the TV most of us have grown up with. It is no longer a static box pushing out content with us as passive observers. “Television is morphing into something far beyond what television has been over the past 30+ years,” says Gerard Kunkel, Microsoft consultant, “It is becoming an interactive environment.”

But how this interactivity manifests is still being formulated. There are many ground breaking enhancements for viewers, if they are ready to adopt the technology. Global predictions for the sales of Smart TVs are rosy while some report that U.S. sales of Smart TVs are falling short. And for those American consumers who have bought Smart TVs, we need to ask how many of them are actually using their set’s interactive capabilities. Is it similar to HD enabled sets versus HD viewing sets?

The Viewer Will Have Even Greater Control
Interactivity will lead to greater choice; choice of platforms, choice of viewing time and choice of advertising (not whether to have it or not but which ads you would prefer to see…). Bill Feininger of FourthWall noted that “TV is (becoming) a platform that allows multi-media services to all kinds of devices and all kinds of content.” Jane Clarke added “Basically consumers can find whatever they want to watch, whenever they want to watch on whatever device they want to watch it on. We may not even be calling it television.”

There is Advertising Opportunity… and Challenge
For those in the advertising space, television will become less interruptive and more relevant as addressable advertising is rolled out in scale with more targeted messages. Consumers will have a more on demand experience but, as Harvey Kent of MediaOcean believes, the challenge is to find ways for advertisers to reach these mobile and fragmented viewers efficiently. My opinion is that scalability in cross platform measurement will continue to be a challenge, at least until we figure out an industry standard form of ACR and I don’t see that happening immediately.
Delivery Systems Will Change
To some, the delivery systems of television will change, maybe to a “killer app” as Tribune’s Robyn McCormick believes. “It will be a mobile application. Maybe it will be Twitter. Maybe it will be Facebook. I think it will be a place where the masses congregate.” I believe that MVPDs will adapt to the new delivery capabilities and perhaps evolve to provide a more seamless delivery system entirely through the IP. That will have implications for measurement….

Measurement Will Improve
Based on the range of opportunities and advancements, there are some who believe that the measurement systems will improve. “I believe the future of television will bring more financial and statistical rigor that will put the business cases together to figure out how to pay for all of this new technology” said Nielsen’s Pat Dineen. And yet there are others who think that the road to improved measurement will have its share of potholes. John Mandel of PrecisionDemand laments that “We have to develop ways beyond the ratings systems so advertisers can hear the cash register ring.”

Matching viewership with ROI has been an ongoing challenge in the measurement field that, I believe, cannot be easily solved without delving too much into someone’s privacy. Is it worth it or can we find a happy compromise between efficient scalability and privacy?  That will be one prediction that I will be eager to hear.

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