Is TV about to implode?

June 6, 2012 | 1 comment

It's a dangerous worldRick McCallum is quoted as saying something very interesting in this io9 spoilers roundup (about why the new Star Wars TV show hasn’t been made yet):

The episodes are too expensive and … well, we’ve got two things going on. Firstly, we’ve got television as we know it about to implode. You’ve got network TV, which is really where we should be because it has the dollars to pay for this and an audience, but you’re burdened by the fact you only get 42 minutes for an hour because of commercials. And then you’ve got cable, which has the most provocative and daring programming, but has audiences of 1 or 2 million people. They also have a very limited amount of money they can spend without wanting some sort of say or control over the material, which is absolutely repugnant to us in terms of the way we work.

Meanwhile, Business Insider is also predicting television’s collapse (emphasis mine):

Proportionately, that means TV lost 8.5 percent of its audience in 2011. As many as 17 percent of people never watch TV, the survey of 28,000 consumers in 56 countries.

That’s a staggering loss of interest in a medium that in industrialized nations is regarded as a standard like electricity or hot running water.

The number of people watching video on a computer at least once per month is now higher, at 84 percent, than those watching TV.

Finally, websites like Take My Money, HBO! show that consumers are interested in new models for TV content distribution – and are still very interested in the content itself.

But not all opinions about the TV industry are negative. Business Insider has republished a point-by-point rebuttal of its original argument:

The value of traditional pay TV will not have to drop at least for as long as consumers continue to exhibit a preference to take today’s multichannel video services as they exist today and for as long as a la carte programming access rules are not mandated. Most importantly, expenditure-sensitive consumers will continue to access basic broadcast signals (because MVPDs are obliged to carry them) and then certain broad reaching networks will be those which are next packaged together for consumers. These will be the networks that advertisers will continue to concentrate their budgets on.

This, of course, carries one hell of a qualifier: for as long as consumers continue to exhibit a preference to take today’s multichannel video services as they exist today. Who knows how long that is, particularly as the Internet continues to take hold of every available screen? The most future-proof strategy for content owners may be to de-tether from incumbent models and start testing new distribution methods now.

Full disclosure: I’m CTO over at latakoo, which aims to make digital video simple for professionals, broadcasters and consumers alike.