Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
July 31, 201310:58 PM

What TV Is And What Will Never Be

We like to watch.

Don't forget that. You can plug in all of the Apple TV units that you want, and bump up the number of Netflix subscriptions too. You can tell us how exciting Google's new Chromecast is (and, yes, it's very exciting), and you can even convince me that more and more people are using their smartphones as companion devices to television. While all of this is true and dramatic, in terms of the media landscape, we still like to watch. Changing these screens to be touchable (like an iPad) may be an eventuality, but we like to watch. Will TV screens become the next iteration of Google Glass, whereby we don't need the glasses but all of our screens can be interacted with through voice commands or heard via bone conduction devices? Could well be, but we still like to watch.

Passive media is as passive media does.

There's that scene in Minority Report. You know the one. Where every screen knows Tom Cruise and is cramming his every walking movement with a call to action that makes us all perk up and realize that advertising at scale probably won't be all that effective. We step back. We push TV advertising by including product placement, sponsorship and more. It's hard to watch the stupidest of sitcoms and know if the star of the show is wearing that baseball cap because it's fashionable or because they're paid to. These are the same celebrities that are being paid to tweet as auxiliary media to a TV buy from an agency (don't think that isn't happening). Every brand is trying to figure out a new angle in a world of infinite channels. We used to talk about last night's TV show around the watercooler at work. Now, we talk about the tweets and Facebook posts about last night's TV show around the watercooler that we watched on time delay or PVR'd and skipped the commercials entirely.

Make no mistake about it: TV is going to be severely disrupted soon.

From Netflix models to the integration of YouTube, Hulu and beyond. It won't be long before the TV set - as we know it to date - is simply a bigger version of the things we can do on our smartphones and tablets, plus all of the stuff that our televisions currently do. But, we haven't talked about the most important component in this equation, have we? We've talked about the TV industry, the technology, the hardware, the software and even the content that drives it, but haven't talked about you. The context of the consumer. All of this chatter about how television is going to move from a lying on the couch environment to a leaning in one (think about how much video games have pushed this forward), seems to be missing the true context of the consumer. I don't know about you, but there comes a moment in my day when I simply want to lean back and let the content do the heavy lifting. No chatting, sharing, liking, friending, commenting, curating, ranking, delegating or debating.... just sit back, watch and let those airwaves wash over me... ahhhh....

What do you want your TV to do?

The television industry is doing everything within its power to maintain control. Apple, Google, Twitter and others are looking to (or have already begun to) disrupt it. There are even those within the TV industry that are pushing to disrupt themselves (how Steve Jobs of them). Still, you can add all of the features, widgets, apps and connectivity of these devices and we may still net out in the same place: people just like to sit back and watch TV.

I could be wrong.

Maybe we do want our TVs to just be a connected screen. Maybe we do want our TVs to be a bigger iPad. We'll soon see. Still, with all of the technology and connectivity that TVs currently have (and how advanced they're going to get), I'm willing to put some serious dollars towards the notion that the vast majority of people will still use them in the exact same way: flicking around while sit back for brief moment in time to be entertained instead of focusing on whatever is going on in their own lives.

Tune in. Drop out. Right?

By Mitch Joel


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