Television Prepares For the Brave New Technological World at the TV of Tomorrow Conference

The New York TV of Tomorrow (TVOT) conference is coming up on December 7, 2017 and promises to offer the most cutting edge trends in media today. I sat down with Tracy Swedlow, co-founder and CEO of TMRW Corp., the parent company that owns InteractiveTV Today and the TV of Tomorrow Show conferences to find out what to expect from this year’s meeting:  

Charlene Weisler: What makes this TVOT different from previous TVOTs?

Tracy Swedlow: This year we have a very broad array of participating companies, including many companies that are participating in the show for the first time, such as Amazon, Visa, MGM and IBM Watson Media, which I think attests to the growing importance of the advanced-TV/video industry as a whole, and the increasing number of areas that are impacted by it.

Weisler: Why are these companies now deciding to join the TVOT participant ranks? 

Swedlow: We believe it's because our presence and influence is growing, and more and more companies are starting to understand the value of being a part of this event. Each show focuses debates and sessions on new timely industry topics, new controversies and the hottest TV trends.

Weisler: What are the major trends and topics for this year?

Swedlow: We always cover OTT, advanced advertising, content, measurement, data, etc., this year we are also doing a mini-track on potential repercussions/effects of ATSC 3.0--which is a broadcaster tech that people believe will transform the TV industry at large.

Another area is artificial intelligence (AI)--the way it is being deployed, how it is being utilized, and what companies are planning to do with the technology. Data and the use of AI software are going to influence every aspect of TV experience--with everything from content being suggested to you, to how your TV is programmed, to the kinds of advertising you see. It will be the blood in the veins of the industry. AI will be broadcasters' and networks'--and really any content distributor's or advertiser's--superhero power, providing a turbo boost to data analysis, and allowing companies to use data incredibly dynamically and creatively.

Some other areas we'll be focusing on are the rise of diginets, the increasing importance of social-video creators/influencers, 360-VR film making, and the future of the TV viewing experience. And, of course, measurement continues to be a hugely important topic: among other things, this year we have leaders from multiple ad-industry organizations--the MRC, the 4A's, the ANA , the IAB, Ad-ID and EIDR--discussing the latest work they're doing on setting new standards for cross-platform measurement.

Weisler: What are the major challenges to TV in the next three years?

Swedlow: ATSC 3.0 is coming on very strong and could transform the entire TV industry--but how will that happen? It has the potential to completely change the local TV landscape, but the challenge lies in how will the industry be able to collaborate on the standard. Devices will need a special chip to make ATSC 3.0 happen--and how long will it take for that to reach critical mass? Will consumers be willing to buy the new ATSC 3.0 chip devices? So while ATSC 3.0 has huge potential, it still has adoption challenges to overcome.

Another area is in OTT. While it is a trend/topic we discuss every year, it seems that right now OTT still has a lot of issues to iron out. There is a huge amount of content on the market with so many platforms (i.e. Showtime, CBS All Access, Netflix, YouTube, Apple and more) trying to scale and find a customer base, while customers are trying to figure out what service works best for them. The result has been a lot of confusion for consumers and the creation of the dynamic of binge-and-bolt, where people sign up for a particular service to view one series and then cancel it once that series is over. So, ultimately all of these platforms are dealing with retention issues and trying to figure out how they can better manage these relationships and prevent all these cancelations--or else develop new business strategies that embrace the fact that high churn rates are now normal.

Then of course there is measurement, tracking and data which is always a challenge, with companies still trying to figure out how best to track viewership across platforms, how best to relate viewing data to purchase behavior, how to better manage data, how to share it, what to share (i.e.: privacy issues). We believe AI will play a significant role in the future of this area.

Weisler: Is linear TV dead, evolving or doing just fine as it is?

Swedlow: No it is not dead. In fact it is doing more than just fine. Right now, for example, diginets are emerging as a major new area of innovation in content and advertising. Also, ATSC 3.0--which basically brings IP to broadcast--has the potential to bring rich interactivity to linear TV. It likely means that linear and interactive and onDemand are going to combine in unusual ways.

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