The future of TV is coming into focus, and looks diverse

I read Ralph Rivera’s tweet about the future of TV and thought, hummmm…

Not quite sure I totally agree, its very American but I’ll go with it for the mass market.

My instant thought is that TV is going to diverge more than ever before. People are going to be doing a number of things differently, things which work for them. Aka the mass will get smaller and the diverse will expand into the mass.

Yes this means fragmentation people! Get use to it!

The main points seem to be,

It will be cheaper
I agree on this point except maybe sports. Most people will start to use alternative ways to get their TV, aka on demand and that push to have things live will die off in the heat of budget cuts and advertisers revenue decline. Unless advertiser can advertise in realtime against live content? (seen some sights this will be possible)

Limited channel lineup

I think this is a bit of weird one because it depends what you mean by a channel? In the traditional sense yes… You only have to look at the BBC’s decision to move BBC Three to online only soon. Saving a some serious money for other channels. However online there will be a more diverse line up that ever before, and they will be accessible to your TV and Radio with limited messing around.

Organized by subject

Channels have their place and I’m not saying its going away but it will change. My dad loves watching ITV Three because there is little chance there will be anything modern and new on it. I dare say it worries me a little, but maybe thats what I’ll be like in 2050?

But the point i’m making is the channels are already starting to align themselves by genre, subject (history, scifi, drama, bravo channels).

Personal subscriptions

Subscription is outdated but for those who do have a subscription on cable and sky. Yes the fear of those companies has always been the ability to break the packages into personal choices. Well the time has come to offer it or the consumer will go else where (there is plenty of other services offering individual channels, some illegally).

The big part of this is the fact media is just media and can be moved around at will. Don’t blame us hackers for this, blame the likes of Apple with airplay, Google with chromecast/dial, etc… I can pick and choose and once pandora’s box is opened, its too late to try and close the lid.

There is a research question how personal subscriptions work with families and groups of people…

Viewable on any screen

As mentioned previously, the media is movable and more manageable than ever before. In a rush and can’t watch it on your TV at home, why not watch it on your 4G powered smartphone on the train into work? Yes and its easily done now. Heck even if you miss it, theres a whole raft of ways to access it after the fact.

A better remote

This goes without saying, right?

No more switching inputs

I agree somewhat. I tend to have my TV set to my XBMC box and generally only switch when watching Live TV (aka very little) and watching through the Chromecast. I thought about putting a  USB TV tuner on the XBMC box but haven’t actually set it up yet (no time). I imagine when the chromecast comes out in the UK (I suspect May/June) it will support all the channels I have on my freeview smart HDTV. Leading to less switching.

I imagine most people will just plugin something like a Chromecast or AppleTV and be done with the settop box.

Netflix is just another channel

Goes without saying again…

HBO gets more accessible

I could say the same as above, but seriously the pressure is building. HBO has got to go fully ondemand soon. Shareholders will want blood if not.

On-demand that’s not awful

Who said it ever was? I mean besides some very bad examples and the current crop of terrible smart TV apps. The likes of XBMC, Plex, AppleTV, Chromecast, etc have shown great experiences which are a joy to use. On demand has always been a joy to be use for those of us who live in the future, and now the future is going to be more evenly distributed. Come experience what we all have been experiencing for many years.

New channels emerging all the time

Weird, didn’t it say limited channel line up earlier? Well anyway, yes welcome to the world when any developer can write a wrapper for another bunch of media. This means any podcaster can appear on your TV or Radio (lets not forget Radio in this). Any user on Youtube, Vimeo, Blip, etc can be a broadcaster. To be honest we all knew this really, thats why Leo Lapoure was able to setup the Twit network or two guys on a sofa drinking beers (Diggnation) went from no sponsors to the likes of the US Army and Ford sponsoring…

(I can feel Andrew Keen and Tony Churnside screaming against the poorly scripted badly filmed content avalanche of these pro-amatuers (how dare they infect our TV?). This is why we have personal subscriptions! Same reason why you don’t follow everyone on twitter!

Not as reliable

I do agree, its not going to be perfect. The internet and net neutrality is under constant attack. When your TV and Radio is over the internet, your going to feel the pinch. All those, all you can eat data allowances will be tested to the maximum. Is your 3/4g contract really unlimited and whats the quality of service like? Are you going to celebrating 30seconds behind everyone else on the train because your internet service provider is prioritising against the channel your watching? Would it be better to pay more for a decent internet service? Roll on the next point…

Not so cheap

This isn’t going to be cheap, the cost saving you got from dumping cable and sky has been moved on to better internet providers.

I spend just over £30 a month on true unlimited business class internet which gives me low ping times and the ability to do what i choose to do with it. My 4g bill is less but isn’t truly unlimited. I checked the small print and there are fair usage policies, even though I was told in store it was truly unlimited.

We monitor the data usage of every customer who has data access and fair usage specified in the terms of their plan. If a customer consumes data above the monthly fair use limit, and in a way that we consider extreme, we may reduce their connection speeds for a limited time. This will only affect a small number of people, and we will always warn them by text before the speed is reduced. This only applies to non-Business tariffs.

Want to switch to the business account, well thats going to cost you!

No one said this was going to be cheap…

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.

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