Is the Television Dead?

Is the Television Dead?

Is TV Dead?According to AdAge.com on 17 September 2007:

Recession or not, traditional media is getting ready to feel the pain. Last week, TNS found that U.S. ad spending fell for the second quarter in a row, the first time that has happened since 2001. Depressing as it might appear, it’s a trend you might want to get used to, though not for the business-cycle reasons you might expect.

This is probably why Asgeir Hoem, an enterprising 20 years old majoring in marketing communications in Newcastle, Australia, feels that television is dead. I’m pleased to have Asgeir to share his views here as a guest writer. I’m sure we can learn something from this young man who founded his own design business in August 2006, when he was only 18 years old – an age where many are still spending their parents’ money to have fun.

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The first televisions were partially mechanical, and had motors and neon lamps in them to generate a blurry, organgeish picture that was a few centimetres wide. This was before 1935. Many inventors, many patents and many years later, we find ourselves in rooms brightly illuminated by artificial light from a television set that is 70 long inches across, blasting millions of pixels at us at a rate of more pictures per second than the eye can pick up. New channels appear all over the place, and the quality gets higher and higher. In the United States, the average number of TV sets per household is 2.79. The number of digital TV sets sold was doubled from 2005 to 2006. Despite this, I will do an attempt to argue why television as we know it is dead.

We demand controlled playback. In a high-paced society where flexibility is precious, the restrictions that a fixed schedule represents for the audience will become unacceptable. Entertainment will have to adapt to suit our schedules; not the other way around. That creates a need for controlled playback of the TV segments that we want to see, just like we control the playback of a DVD or a movie on a computer. That includes the possibility to pause, stop, forward, rewind and even replay entire shows. The immense growth of websites such as YouTube, Metacafe and Google Videos as well as the less legal ones are inescapable evidence for this need.

We demand personalisation and interactivity. Today’s television is static. The possibility to choose what you want to see is limited to a few channels, and expansion is expensive. To view shows from a particular niche is often nothing more than a distant thought. There is a need for personalisation. The audience needs to be able to assemble their own channels, specify their preferences and tailor their own viewing experience. We want to specify filters, activate add-ons and suit ourselves. Likewise, there is a need for interactivity. We have become used to sharing things we find on the net. We bookmark them for later reference. In the same manner we have to be able to bookmark and share television shows. Easy accessible reviews and ratings of the selection of segments should also be an integral part of a future television.

Technology is on our side. BitTorrent technology has opened for decentralised storage and rapid exchange of information without the need for big servers.The result is a system where the speed, quality and efficiency will go up proportionally with the number of users. This is not advanced technology from a user point of view, and will make it easier to publish for people outside the biggest broadcasters. Big broadcasting companies will have to share room with the independent TV creators, which is more or less precisely what has happened to the big newspapers after the explosive growth of blogging.

The tsunami disaster in Indonesia was covered just as good by blogs as it was by international newspapers and professional journalists. The Lewinsky case was published by the Drudge Report several days before the big newspapers decided to print it, and had over 6 million hits before it hit the major news channels.

The dangers of this development is the same as those of blogging, there is way too much information. The problem becomes to distill and present this information in a reasonable way, and to find the quality among the quantity. On the web, this happens in the form of rankings based on traffic and external influence.

The only limitation at this point is hardware technology. An average internet connection in 2007 is around 2Mbps (UK=2 and US=1.9), and is transmitted through copper telephone lines. As these old cables are thrown out and replaced by fibre, these numbers will rise significantly. A single fiber optic cable can carry information a rate of 14 million Gb/s.

Joost—built on efficient and low-cost BitTorrent technology is an indication of the direction we are heading in. This is a lightweight multi-platform application that provides enhanced television entertainment. You log in like you would do on any platform, and from that point on, everything is about you. You can search, create channels and playlists, write or read reviews, control the playback and even if you so desire to chat with other people watching the same show.

These are the reasons why television as we know it is dead. We are on the brink of a major role change, possibly similar to the impact the iPod and MP3 players had on the music industry. It will certainly be an interesting development to follow, and I assume we are in for a lot of surprises as is the nature of this industry.

[tags]television is dead, media[/tags]

6 Replies to “Is the Television Dead?”

  1. Wow! this is a well written article and I am in agreement to Asgeir Hoem. Professor John Negroponte did mention about the things to come in his book “Being Digital”! The advent of new technologies will drive the way we do things and turning the tables around, from TV Broadcasters’ call to viewers’ call; and it really means at the viewers convenience! Thanks for the sharing!

  2. Incredibly fascinating argument on the technlogy that is happening and what is to come!

    Mr. Hoem is quite remarkable in his visionary capacity and in the ability to craft his arguments. With the vertigo of change around us, it steadies me to have the insight of Mr.Hoem, particularly for my future marketing campaign efforts.
    I’m off to research BitTorrent!

    Adrienne Zurub
    author
    ‘Notes From the Mothership The Naked Invisibles’
    out 11/2007
    http://chasewunderlickpublishers.com.cn

  3. Hi :

    Nice article.

    I wonder whether Joost would make a major impact like what Youtube did. I am a beta tester of Joost and the offerings are still pretty “limited” at the moment.

    Thanks for dropping by my options trading blog.

  4. great article!
    It will be interesting to see how the tv networks handle the advent of the internet tv, at the moment they are really doing a poor job…

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