The way we watch television has fundamentally changed over the past few years. From the start of public access to Hulu in early 2008 to the 2.0 version of Google TV that was announced last month, the platforms we access content across and our consumption behaviors have radically transformed.
Viewers no longer sit down to tune in to their favorite show at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays. They DVR it, catch it on Xfinity the next day or download it for $1.99 on iTunes to stream to their Apple TV. In addition, with the dramatic rise of video consumption over the last decade, the TV is no longer seen as a silo of entertainment — instead people expect it to act as a viewing window for all the available video content in the world.
In the same way the music industry was turned upside down with the advent of iTunes, single song downloads and peer-to-peer sharing in the last decade, TV is now headed down a path of changing delivery platforms, payment models and consumption patterns. The big players are combating the fact that Millennials do not want to pay for cable by partnering with streaming services.
As a recent article about trends for 2012 notes, “In the final months of 2011, we’ve seen The CW, Disney, and ABC Family partner with Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon to offer their content to subscribers, with little, if any, delay following the show’s original airing.”
Web sites like Hulu, Xfinity and Crackle have made free access to content that was formerly locked down on cable an expectation of TV viewers. However, if you’re willing to fork over a little money to download your favorite show, you have an exhaustive library of content available through iTunes. You can also stream your favorite shows and movies to all your devices for $7.99 a month with Netflix. The point is, people can consume what they want, when they want, for the price they want and on the device of their choosing. The game has changed. The next few years will be revolutionary for content creators, platform builders, cable television and networks, and the title of a recent GigaOM article articulates this well, “The children are our future, and they don’t pay for TV.”
Content curation is another facet of the changes occurring in the new era of television, as evidenced by Google’s recent launch of “more than 100 new YouTube channels with exclusive video content commissioned from media companies and celebrities.” As we all know, there is more video available on the web from cable and TV networks than could ever possibly be viewed in our lifetime. So, we could all use a little help sifting through the billions of hours of video footage to find what is both relevant to our interests and worth spending our time watching. Google is addressing this by building an infrastructure for categorizing video content because, “Google still believes that TV is in the middle of a fundamental change from hundreds to millions of ‘channels,’ and that’s where the opportunity for Google lies: helping consumers make sense of that huge trove of video.”
While the entire television model is in a state of flux, the user base has become super social in their viewing habits. Not only do Gleeks congregate en masse on Twitter to discuss episodes minute-by-minute, but new services and apps have been created to provide the chatting masses ways to check-in to shows, to earn rewards for being fans and to share their love of TV with their social circle. GetGlue, IntoNow from Yahoo! and Miso are three examples of services that are leading the way in entertainment check-ins. While services like these may currently be common only to hardcore TV enthusiasts and the perpetually-early-adopting tech nerd niche, GetGlue has seen a 55% increase in check-ins in the month of April 2011. These services are still in their early days, but they have a lot of opportunity for growth as the television model continues to evolve.
Whether you stream your favorite shows to your mobile device or watch the latest blockbuster on your iPad, be sure to stay tuned as the world of television is only in the infancy of its evolution. So, how do you see the future of television playing out? When did you cut your cable cord? Share your comments on the evolution of television as we’ve known it.
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