What’s Next for the TV World?

Joseph Pistrui. Professor. IE Business School

1 May 2014

What’s next? This is what the television industry should be asking itself as changes emerge in the sector, not only in technology but also in viewers’ habits.  

Many organizations are now in the midst of seismic challenges and changes. Many leaders are dizzy because the future is so ambiguous and clouded. The Nextsensing Project has recently demonstrated the power of asking “what’s next?” in circumstances like these.

We recently formed a group to explore the “future of television” because of its pervasive global impact. Nine of our NextSensors used a new thinking process — a simple, one-page Opportunity Canvas — to look individually at the state of TV today and to organize thoughts into predictive patterns.

Those patterns formed a foresense of what is most likely going to happen to TV makers, program producers and television watchers. Find a short summary of the findings at www.nextsensing.com.

Briefly, the thinkers zoomed in on what’s wrong with TV today. First, programming is based on the whims of major studios or networks whose goal is to generate profits from advertisers. Then, too, programming is fed from big organizations to viewers who must watch at a precise time using a cumbersome TV set. While  various recording tools allow viewers to time shift programs, our group did not consider this true 21st century TV.

What did strike the group were the growing number of users who record broadcast content, then — using TVs, computers, tablets and phones — share it via social media.

Our group also noted that many former television watchers are now creating their own content and sharing it via social media. A TV network called blip.tv claims it has 7,000 content creators helping to generate programming.

TV tomorrow

The Nextsensing Project helps people become more comfortable with (and effective at) understanding emerging opportunities. Given the number of people around the world who have long predicted that Apple would soon introduce a 21st century TV, our group considered that prospect only a “maybe.” What they did note were other major firms who might eclipse the TV industry. Curiously, just days after our report was published, the TV world has been shaken. For example:

·        Amazon now has a device that you can talk to in order to search for the TV content you want to watch, whenever you want to watch it.
·        Yahoo! soon plans to start producing original TV shows.
·        YouTube has reportedly spent most of the last year planning how it could compete directly with cable network providers.

What’s next?

Major change often happens far faster than one expects. Mainspring watches yielded to quartz models in a blink. We believe that the entire economic underpinnings of TV — the network-advertiser alliance — will be strained severely and imminently. And those whose main revenue comes from making television sets tied to cable feeds might want to start exploring other options.

While The Nextsensing Project is about better ways to think about the future, not surefire ways to predict what’s coming, this extensive exploration into the world of TV leads us to believe that any industry would benefit from asking “what’s next?” That one question is so powerful that, given time and a structured way to think, it is possible to unlock potential where there was only chaos before.

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