Monday, May 24, 2010

TV: YOU'RE NOT GETTING IT!!! (op-ed)

well, with the temps being in the mid to high 90s, i thought today would be a great day to reflect/rant about network tv and how they just don't get it.  Network TV has a chance to actually make the digital leap before its too late.  we've seen way too many industries who's own arrogance prevented them from taking advantage of the 'digital' transition of 'analog' services; ie the new internet way of business (elimination of the middle man, crowd-surfing, freedom of information vs hoarding of, etc).this rant/reflection will discuss TVs place in our living rooms and our budgets and also where we've been and some possible 'fixes' to avoid failure.

Again, this is all pure opinion based (mine, hehe). Keep reading for the full scoop.  This post is for the SarahZ @ periscope :)Television (TV) has now been around since the late 1930s or so.  Prior to TV, radio was the choice of living room entertainment and in a way the radio faced the same types of challenges that TV does today (being that it was the lesser of superior technologies and forms of entertainment, more on this later).   TVs started out as black and white appliances that weighed a lot and really didn't have very good reception/clarity.  Color TV was born in the late 1940s but didn't see real consumer use until the early 1950 (which was still minimal, TV = entertainment = back then, not a necessity with prior depression, war, etc).  Ads for shows were for usually one product and nothing like what we see now on broadcast tv (4-7 diff companies/ads in one session).

CableTV was introduced in the mid 1970s.  The idea behind it was higher quality of programming without any commercials; also the ability to watch full theater movies at home.  However, as we are all aware, this has changed dramatically in the last few decades; we don't pay extra to not get ads but instead buy 'packages' of channels that offer wider specialty channels/programming.  Of course, quality/resolution of the TV picture has increased by thousands since its inception in the late 1940s; 1080p HDTV is nearly lifelike given the proper HDTV.

So there's a VERY quick/brief recap on TV and its origins (summarized from the Wikipedia.org entries)So, why bring up the history of the TV for this rant? I bring it up because I think it bears importance in the current situation of TV and technology.

1. Entertainment viewing in the past (ie prior to last 10 years) for the majority of people is either at home in their living rooms or a friends or at a movie theater.  Referring to video/audio entertainment

2. Ads have always been a part of the experience (radio, TV, picture shows, etc) and we shouldn't expect them to go away

3. Usually the superior technology/form of entertainment will trump the outdated one.

Lets speed back to now.

1. Entertainment viewing is EVERYWHERE. At home, at work, on break, on the toilet, standing in line.  A ton of my friends would rather sit at their desk and watch video on the net than at the comfy couch watching TV.  Others watch podcasts or stream while on the bus or train or plane.  Yes, most of us do have a living room but not as many of us have big TVs for television and its programming.

2. Again, ads are always going to be a part of the picture/experience and at this point we should really just pick the lesser of the evils.

However, one of the biggest NO-NOs the TV industry has done recently is forcing us to watch MORE commercials than ever before.  The sad thing is that advertising on TV has not really changed or evolved like the technology itself.  I personally would rather see less intrusive ads (ie NOT F#$$KING LOUD!) and would take translucent banner for the company in the lower right of the whole TV show if there were only 3 breaks in the show w/commercials from the company who buys the banner time.  Yes, TV networks lose some revenue by lack of diversity but it could also do something that most industries haven't done in decades, ever: give something back to the consumer, plus the right product on the right show and you could be a marketing genius. :)

3. This is the one that tv has to be realistic about. Technology is evolving, innovating faster than any time in history.

We think a phone market is fragmented but the fact of the matter is that is just how things are right now.  Technology is moving and you better get on board or get left behind.So here's what I'm trying to say:  TV as form of entertainment needs to rethink its old ways of thinking, doing business.  We now live in a world where we can watch videos on our phone, heck we have a phone that can fit in our pocket and call the other side of the world! We want our information at any time, from any where and we can get it but yet we still can't choose which channels we want in our cable package??

A la Carte pricing of channels is a must for Cable/TV providers and is the obvious trend of the future.

Buying advertising should be even more appealing to companies vying for ad time since one could theoretically use channels that are purchased to create custom tailored targeted marketing/commercial lineups for customers on an individual basis.Delivering such commercials would be so easy with a VOD/IPTV setup since each show is basically a file.  watermark adds on lower left of show and deliver relevant ads between shows but there would be no breaks once show started. each show could be sold as ad space to different companies (perhaps we could even see relevant products based on theme of show/episode?? ).  This would allow for easier viewing on a mobile device too. plus, with so many different outlets of entertainment (video games for example), too many ads may throw us against the industry/medium as a whole and shift us towards interactive movies ie video games and full feature films.

You see where i'm going here? Yup, a la carte channel price plans would benefit the TV industry and companies trying to buy ad space and us customers would FINALLY get what we wanted!!  This probably would help clean up the quality of programming since us consumers would be directly determining with our money what shows stayed and what shows didn't sell.  :)

any who, sorry for the uber long, i just feel the TV industry is just missing out on a very big opportunity.  or i'm just mad i can't get hulu to work on my phone w/flash :)