Television in a Second Screen World. Can it Adapt?

With all of this talk about second screens and multi-platforms and all the opportunities and challenges ahead, it is a good time to reflect on where the television marketplace headed. Robert Tercek of Creative Visions did just that at the recent 2nd Screen Summit in NYC. His Cassandra-like assessment of the state of television called “Ten Things That Should Be Obvious But Apparently Are Not” could stir fear in the hearts of some media executives.

Tercek is bullish on the media disruption that is only now just beginning to manifest.  He says that providers who do not embrace the future with all of its business uncertainties will soon be steamrolled by it. Are you someone who is afraid of disrupting the current business model for an unknown monetization future? Well please stand back and get out of the way.

According to Tercek, all this fragmentation is causing gridlock, whether it is in content roll-out, devices or in measurement and TV is fast becoming a bubble economy that could soon pop.  But rather than ignore the inevitable can we as an industry put aside the status quo and start to think like disruptors?

The old TV model does not serve us well in this brave new world and needs to be changed. For one thing, we need to stop serving advertisers at the expense of the audience. We tend to think, “How can we best monetize this new business paradigm?” But the viewers are really in charge and now has the tools and wherewithal to consume content when, where and how they want it, whether the media industry can monetize it or not.

In the three major generations of TV viewers, Boomers celebrated the invention of the remote control which enabled easier navigation. Generation X welcomed the DVR which further pushed personal viewing opportunities. Now, Millennials have Youtube and mobile video at their disposal which not only takes television off platform, it further enhances viewer control over their entertainment. Sense a trend here?

Among some of the more provocative conclusions: 
1. TV Everywhere is a failed experiment, a defensive play by providers, confusing and cumbersome to viewers and is ultimately unsustainable. 

2. Video innovation is coming from beyond TV, rendering the TV platform as an “also-ran”. 

3. The Smart Home trumps Smart TV. And it all comes down to mobile applications both in and out of the home. 

4. TV is essentially an app now.  

5. However, large prestigious networks lose leverage when they release apps because they are suddenly competing with small interlopers. This humbles great brands since anyone with a personal brand can launch their own channel. 

6. There are no barriers to entry. You can launch a potentially major entertainment company on a shoestring, receive free collaboration and use a cloud service for scale.  

7. Franchises are cluttered because we are now all B2C and some of us are better than others. An example here is Netflix’s House of Cards which has been nominated for a slew of Emmys. 

8. There is a re-invigoration of print (something I have long believed) which can now transcend its format by offering video and audio.  

9. The Internet is Big – Really, Really Big. Sites that you might never have heard of before are huge and growing quickly.  

10. TV is fast becoming a subset of digital media causing a shift in the power pyramid. Film used to be on top followed by broadcast, cable and internet. Now it is Internet and Mobile on top followed by cable, broadcast and film.

There is no turning back the media model to a simpler, more economically predictive time where viewers were more beholden to the offerings of the major entertainment outlets. It is a time of disruption that can be as exciting as it can be upsetting. Complacency is not an option. Let’s start disrupting.

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