Welcome the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The TV of Tomorrow Offers an Exciting and Dystopian Future.

Where is TV headed? What is the TV of tomorrow? That was the question on my mind while attending the TV of Tomorrow conference held in NYC last week.

Many issues are hitting the industry now. “People are trying to aggregate data in order to organize the KPIs and monetize them while understanding all of the barriers involved how to bring all that data together,’” noted, Tracy Swedlow, Editor-in-Chief of ITVT and Founder of the TVOT Conference. In the realm of social media, many companies are grappling with “YouTube and their changing algorithms, libraries that are being de-monetized and the creation of greener pastures,” she added. 

One thing is clear; the TV ecosystem of today will definitely not be the TV ecosystem of tomorrow. Millennials are cord-nevers who didn’t grow up in a world of TV networks. Don’t expect them to change their habits as they age. And they don’t see the media landscape the way older viewers do. As Helen Katz, SVP/Global Director of Media and Insights, Publicis Media, explained when she asked her daughter what her favorite TV channels were, replied, “What is a TV channel?” 

For those of use with years invested in the industry, the changes discussed at the TVOT are at once exciting and dystopian. Here are my takeaways:

Increasing Technological Dominance
This drumbeat of technological change is leading to what Stein Erik Sorhaug, VP Product Strategy, Vimond, terms the Fourth Industrial Revolution where, through artificial intelligence (AI), we will drive human behavior and human thought. AI, as applied through Machine Learning, has the future capability to craft the most engaging content, map the most effective media plan and measure everything everywhere through the consumer journey. Ideally there will be room for both AI and human input where computers "create an inference layer" according to Mika Rautiainen, CEO/CTO, Valossa Labs, followed by "human curators editorially creating playlists and new channels," Sorhaug added.

Skill sets need to keep pace
Certain jobs could disappear in this new media ecosystem or will require different skill sets. "No question that people in yesterday's supply chain will be wiped out," stated Dave Morgan, CEO, Simulmedia, "marketing managers today don't have hard science background and will lose jobs to those who do." Swedlow suggested future media mavens, “create their own channel with their own ideas for original content. There will always be an opportunity for great content with real personalities and people who have a compelling story to tell.” 

Measurement Still a Challenge
“The lines between linear and digital are blurring,” explained Jenny Burke, SVP Sales Strategy, NBCU, “so we are concentrating on content; distributing it to whatever platform the consumer prefers.” How can this consumer journey be best measured? Aaron Fetters, SVP National Agencies and CPG Business, comScore, noted that, “times are changing and measurement must change with it. We need to future proof measurement with the growth in IoT, OTT and wearables.” But how can we accomplish this when there are walled gardens and silos of data and no industry standard content identification system in place? Until we can agree on the best way to track content, through content identification and ACR, full cross-platform measurement will continue to be a challenge and will become more complex.

OTT is Growing and Cuts Out the Advertiser
Ignore the influence of OTT at your peril. “Four major OTT services account for 80% of viewing time in OTT households with Netflix at 39%,” stated Katz. And it is growing. Since much of OTT is subscription based, this can shut out advertising. Fetters added, “We see that viewers are spending 25 hours per month with Netflix on their TV screen and that is 25 hours per month that is not available to advertising. We need to find ways of adjusting the advertising plan to reach those households.”

ATSC 3.0 Brings TV into the New Age
Although still in the arena of the engineering wonks, the advent of ATSC 3.0 will prove to be a game changer for local TV. This new protocol will, as Swedlow explained, “enable regular digital television over the air – local television and every other broadcaster - to be able to explore the relationship between linear over-the-air and interactivity on-demand.” How fast and how profound ATSC 3.0 will be depends on timing – when will all of the new chips be installed? It will take a while, she explained, because there is no deadline by the government, “but I think it will pick up steam,” she concluded.

We have to be “savvy enough to take advantage of all of these new technologies because everything will be interactive. There will be shows that will be voice activated and there will be shows that will require you to interact with another person or deal with blockchain to monetize your content,” explained Swedlow. The best advice I can give is to embrace change and be nimble. The future of television will demand more of us but it will be an exciting journey.

This article first appeared in www.Mediapost.com

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