The Future of Television & The Digital Living Room

Posted on Oct 19, 2010 | 133 comments

The Future of Television & The Digital Living Room

Dana Settle & I hosted a dinner with some of the biggest companies in entertainment to talk about the future of television, film & digital media.  Michael Ovitz, the co-founder of CAA was the keynote speaker.

Nobody can predict 100% what the future of television will be so I won’t pretend that I know the answers.  But I do know that it will form a huge basis of the future of the Internet, how we consume media, how we communicate with friends, how we play games and how we shop.  Video will be inextricably linked to the future of the Internet and consumption between PCs, mobile devices and TVs will merge.  Note that I didn’t say there will be total “convergence” – but I believe the services will inter-operate.

The digital living room battle will take place over the next 5-10 years, not just the next 1-2.  But with the introduction of Apple TV, Google TV, the Boxee Box & other initiatives it’s clear that this battle will heat up in 2011.  The following is not meant to be a deep dive but rather a framework for understanding the issues.  This is where the digital media puck is going.

While we won’t get through all of this, here are some of the issues in the industry that I plan to bring up and ones I hope we’ll discuss tomorrow:

1. “Over the Top” video distribution –  Apple TV is brand new and is priced at $99.  Given how Apple’s products are normally delivered to near perfection it is likely to be a huge holiday hit this year.  While their past efforts at Apple TV have been mediocre it seems clear that this time they’re really trying to get it right.  That said, Apple will remain a closed system designed to drive media consumption through a closed iTunes system and a take a toll for media distribution.

The device itself will have no storage.  So without my weighing into the pro’s / con’s of this I can say that I believe it will capture a large segment of the market but leave room for “open platforms” to play a big role.

Just as in the mobile battle when Apple goes closed it creates an opportunity for somebody that is substantively open.  Enter Google.  If you’re an OEM who wants to move more hardware but you don’t have the muscle to create an entire media ecosystem then you’re best off finding a partner who can build a software OS, app platform and search capabilities.

So it is unsurprising to see companies like Sony, Logitech & Intel partner with Google.  Google balances the universe and helps all of the hardware, software and media companies ensure it isn’t a “one horse race.”

That said, it would be an understatement to say that traditional media is skeptical about Google’s benevolence and many fear a world in which video content margins are crushed in the way that print & music have been with the primary beneficiary having been Google.  So while they enjoy a race with two major brands competing they also have three other strategies they’ll pursue.

  • they’ll try to “move up the stack” and provide some of these services themselves.  Thus you see television manufacturers rushing to create content ecosystems, app platforms, TV OS’s and Internet offerings
  • they’ll continue to partner with the MSO’s: tradition cable & satellite providers as well as the new FiOS offerings from Telcos.  The MSO’s are today’s distribution platforms and they still have a lot of muscle in the ensuing years
  • they’ll continue to look for independent technology partners.  They will find the Hobbesian power relationship more palatable than strengthening what they consider their “frenemies” (Apple & Google) and as a result will work with independent players like Boxee.

I have always thought there was room for an independent success story like Boxee or someone similar.  I’ve always believed that such a player would only succeed if they could capture an enthusiastic user base that feels compelled to use their platform to discover and consume content.  Clearly Boxee captured the imagination of this early-mover user base 2 years ago.  The launch of their new Boxee Box in November and the user acceptance of that will be telling for their future development.

2. Attempts at “moving up the stack” – In 1997 I led a project to help senior management at British Telecom define its Internet strategy.  I did some market sizing analysis and wrote a strategy paper called, “It’s about the meat & potatoes, not the sex & sizzle.”  I argued that if BT was focused there would be a large business in access services (dial up, ISDN and the equivalent of T1’s), hosting services and other infrastructure related products that would be very profitable and they had a great chance to corner the market on a high-market growth business.

My paper warned of the dangers of trying to “move up the stack” and become a content company.  At the time all telco’s were envious of Yahoo! and Excite in particular as well as all of the Internet companies with grandiose stock market valuations.  The attitude was “I’ll be damned if those young kids are going to get rich off of our infrastructure.”  Needless to say BT didn’t follow the advice of my paper and it went bananas for content deals signing a string of money-losing content partnerships.  I guess shareholders would have probably punished them for being boring and prudent.

Fast forward nearly a decade and it was unsurprising to me to see the death grip that global mobile operators placed over the handsets.  They threatened any hardware manufacturer with not putting anything but operator approved software on the phones.  In this way they locked down the device (they controlled the phone distribution market through owning retail stores and subsidizing handset costs).  The mobile operators were run largely by the same people who ran the wireline telcos a decade early and still felt screwed by the tech industry.  The created a hegemony that delayed innovation until January 2007 when the iPhone was introduced.

The iPhone broke the hegemony with hardware & software that had no telco software on it – thus the Faustian AT&T / Apple iPhone deal.  They both gained.  They both lost.  But ultimately we all won because consumers finally had enough of locked down, crappy software from telcos.  Imagine how much mobile telco money still exists in meat & potatoes.  Imagine if one of them had created a Skype competitor.

So entering 2011 why does this matter?  I see a repeat from television manufacturers and MSO’s.  They know that the world is changing and they’re shit scared of what that means for hardware and pipeline providers.  The hardware manufacturers are on razor-thin margins and see that having apps on TVs will be a way to build direct relationships with consumers and built higher margin businesses.  It’s hard to blame them.  But none of this will stick.  Not because they are bad companies – but because software is not a core competency.

They will never succeed in these businesses.  And I think the smartest hardware providers & MSOs are the ones that will sign unique and daring partnerships with startup technology firms.  But the whole market will develop more slowly as we watch this bum fight take place.  Get your seats ringside – it will take place over the next 2-3 years.

3. The “second screen” – One of the most exciting developments in television & media to me will be “second screen” technologies built initially on iPads and extended to the plethora of devices we’ll see over the next 3-5 years.  And this will be real innovation & revolutionary in the way that the iPad is, rather than just being incremental.  It will involve 3d (see Nintendo’s moves, for example).  You’ll likely see applications that draw you into interactive experiences, connect you to your social networks, help you browse your TV better and create a richer media experience overall.

I think we’re in the 1st inning of second screen technologies & applications and this movement will create whole new experiences that the 50+ crowd will lament as “ruining the TV experience.”  The 15-30 crowd will feel like this is what TV was meant to be – social.  In my opinion this will replicate what most of us 40+ year olds already experienced when we were in our 20’s.  We’ll have the post show water cooler effect that was popular in the Seinfeld era.  We’ll have simultaneous viewing parties like we did for Friends or Melrose Place.  But most of it will be virtual.

4. Content bundling –  When there was one pipe capable of broadband delivery leading into our house the person who controlled this could control what we saw and it was delivered in a linear timeframe.  As a result it became popular to bundle content together and get us to pay for “packages” when all we really wanted was The Sopranos or ESPN.  We all saw what happened when technology let us buy singles on iTunes rather than whole albums pushed by record labels.  No prizes for guessing what the future holds for video.  The idea of forced bundles will seem archaic.  Smart companies will figure this out early.  The “Innovator’s Dilemma” will hold others back.  The bundle is the walking dead.  Only question is how long it survives.

5. Torso TV – Television was designed for a mass audience in a single country.  One of the things that has fascinated me over the past couple of years is the rise of global content and its ability to develop a “niche” global audience that is relevant.  Think of about the rise of Japanese Anime, Spanish Novelas, Korean Drama or the rise of Bollywood entertainment from India.  It’s not a mass, mainstream audience but I would argue that it’s “global torso” content that will be meaningful at scale.  Websites like ViiKii, which have been launched to create realtime translations of shows by fan-subbers, have huge followings already.  And I’m sure that this is what popularized the SlingBox in the first place.  British, India & Pakistani ex-pats on a global scale want to watch cricket.

I believe that NetFlix has won the battle for the “head end” of content from films.  They have such a strong base of subscribers and their strategy of “Netflix everywhere” is brilliant.  We watch it on the iPad.  We pause.  We turn on our TV and get it streamed through the Wii.  And it’s available also on the Apple TV.  It’s on Boxee.  It’s effen awesome.  Game over.  IMO.  But the torso?  It’s up for grabs.  And I think players like Boxee understand this is a juicy and valuable market. As does ViiKii and countless others racing to serve fragmented audiences the good stuff.

6. YouTube meets the television – It was funny to me to hear people say for years that “YouTube had no business model.”  It made me laugh because it is so obvious when you capture an entire market of passionate consumers in any market – especially in video – that in the long-run it becomes a huge business.  So many people are stuck in the mindset that YouTube is UGC (as defined as people uploading silly videos or watching Coke & Mentos explode) and that brands don’t want to advertise on UGC.

And meanwhile I’ve seen several LA startups focus on creating low-cost video production & distribution houses.  They are quietly accumulating audiences in the same way that Zynga did on Facebook.  And if you think that these guys can’t monetize then I’ll refer you to everybody’s arguments about games – that free-to-play would never work in the US.  And meanwhile Zynga is one of the fastest growing companies in US history.

What Zynga understood is that you need to go where the consumers are, capture those audiences, build a direct relationship and then diversify channel partners.  This is happening in spades now on YouTube as a new generation of viewers is being served up by a new generation of TV production houses that are currently under the radar screen of many people.  This will change in the next 2 years.

And as they explode and become bigger companies YouTube becomes even more of a Juggernaut.  And don’t forget that as the Internet meets TV, YouTube will continue to be a brand to be reckoned with served up by Google TVs.

7. Content discovery – new metaphors – Anybody who tries to search for a program to watch on TV on an EPG (electronic programming guide) knows just how bad they are for finding “the good stuff.”  And for a long time the Internet has been that way, too.  The best online video search tool (in terms of usability) that I’ve seen is Clicker.  By a long shot.  Do a little test yourself.  Trying searching for something on Hulu.  Then try the same search on Clicker.  Try it first for content that is on Hulu and then for content that is not.  And Hulu’s search is actually reasonable.

Much of web video search is bad at finding “the good stuff” including YouTube itself.  Try searching “Dora the Explorer” in YouTube and then try it on Clicker.  And then try it on Hulu.  I feel confident that any user trying this will not go back from Clicker (no, I’m not an investor).

But as the Internet & TV merge it will be a major fight for how you find the good stuff.  Google isn’t that good at video search today.  Will this change in a world of Google TV’s?  Boxee prides itself on social TV & content discovery.  Will their next version blow us away and be the way we search our TVs?  Will the MSO / EPG world improve (answer: not likely)?  What about discovering content on our TVs via Twitter or Facebook?  Or some unforeseen technology?  Will we discover stuff through second-screen apps?

Technology such as that being created by Matt Mireles over at SpeakerText is trying to make video transcriptions and make video more searchable and discoverable.  Imagine that world.  I’m sure others are focused on solving this great problem.

The amazing thing about content discovery is that it can alter what is actually viewed and thus becomes a powerful broker in the new TV era where pipes don’t have a stranglehold on eyeballs.

I have no idea who will win.  I only know who won’t.

8. Gaming & TV – One of the great unknowns for me is what role the console manufacturers have on our future media consumptions experiences.  There are about 60 million 7th generatation game consoles in the US between the Nintendo Wii, Xbox and PlayStations against about 110 million homes.

And while free-to-play games are becoming hugely popular and as my own kids spend as much time playing Angry Birds (you can’t tell me you don’t want one of these – I already pre-ordered 2 for Hanukkah!) on the iPad now as they do Super Mario Bros. on the Wii – it’s clear that the games manufacturers will find a way to be hugely relevant in the digital living room fight.

As will the media companies.  Disney acquired Playdom and Club Penguin.  EA bought PlayFish.  Google has had long-standing rumors around Zynga.  It’s clear that games will feature in the Internet meets TV meets Video world.  They’re all battling for mindshare & share of wallet.  Watch for continued game creep into TV.

Don’t believe me?  Check out what the younger generation does on Machinima these days.  People record their game experiences and make them into videos to share. Games meets videos meets TV.  To make it easier for you to understand – check out this video (NSFW – language – but good graphics & example of future. You can get through first 1.20 safely).

9. Social media meets digital content – I think the social media story is more obvious in many ways.  It’s clear that when people watch movies now they Tweet about it when they get out and this has an impact on box office sales.  Social media buzz can boost or bury content.  The current generation of players are trying to skate with the puck at their feet by simply offering “check-ins for TV” the next generation will connect us in ways we don’t even imagine now.  I’ve seen some really innovative companies trying to solve this social TV problem but their stuff is so new I feel I can’t talk about it out of fairness to them.  But I’m hugely interested to watch how this space evolves.

10. The changing nature of content & the role of the narrative – A lot of Hollywood people say that the traditional “narrative” of filmed entertainment will hold in the Internet meets TV world.  They say that long-form storytelling will be where the ad money will flow and people will still want to consume professionally written, edited and produced content.

While I agree that there is a bright future for the talent that is uniquely in Los Angeles I think the future of TV & Film will be as different as the transition from radio to TV was.  As is widely known “many of the earliest TV programs were modified versions of well-established radio shows.”  Why wouldn’t we think that 50 years from now our initial Internet meets TV shows won’t seem just as quaint.  Consider:

  • The 22-minute format with 8 minutes of 30-second commercials was designed for linear programming.  Why is the number 22 magic?  In a non-linear world do we need a standard length?
  • The world is filled with amazing writers, directors, actors and producers.  Many of them don’t have the money or access to be in Hollywood or the ones that are here lack the ability to reach an audience.  Companies like Filmaka have been trying to solve this problem.
  • What happens when content production & distribution is easy to professionally produce and distribute at mass low-cost scale?  Will we still have predictable story lines?  Or can we develop more fragmented content to meet the needs of fragmented audiences and interest groups?
  • What happens in a world where content producers have a direct relationship with the audience and can involve the audience directly in story creation?  Or maybe even as wacky as involving the audience in the story itself?
  • Isn’t Arcade Fire’s Wilderness Downtown already an example of the future where you can involve customized assets to an audience?  We each see a similar story but with different backgrounds, characters or maybe even music? In a world where the house that I grew up in can play a role in the story (as with Wilderness Downtown) – anything is possible.  Isn’t it obvious that content customization to the audience is the future?

I’m such a big believer in the power of writing, editing and producing.  When I’m given the choice I always watch independent film with complex characters and non-cliche story lines.  I see a future in which Hollywood still is the center of global video content creation in the same way that Silicon Valley remains the center of technology development.  But democratization of production & distribution will clearly change the world as we know it today.

And I’m excited to participate in that revolution.

  • Richard Edwards

    What an exciting time for content owners. No longer beholden to a small number of distribution players. Value generated through access ownership seems a temporary phenomenon, the value is in the content itself (I'll agree that convenience of access absolutely has a value too).

    It feels like we are entering an age where the democratisation of return is based based on quality of content above all else, and that feels healthy. Big old TV companies don't feel like the place to be right now, weighed down by legacy infrastructure and thinking, and relying on old 'anti-customer' business models'.

    An exciting time.

  • K. Warman Kern


    The “Innovator’s Dilemma” is not content rightsholders’ conflict with MSO deals; interactive distribution rights are distinct and separate from telecasting rights. (Just as DVD, satellite radio, terrestrial radio are separate and distinct rights fees).

    The dilemma is that, let’s use MLB as the example, enjoys 100% of the online revenues. So to give up exclusive interactive distribution rights to share the revenues with another interactive channel, will only do this if the other interactive channel is offered at a premium over and above the price and can afford to share the same unit revenues already enjoys.

    In order to merit such a dramatic premium, the innovation has to be far more exponential than a 2nd screen experience on the same or a second piece of hardware. And it must not interfere with the high production values which MLB has already invested so much in and considers critical to the brand.

    There is an opportunity to do this. Consider that people still pay hundreds of dollars to attend a live event with fellow fans – complete strangers – over staying at home with friends to watch on a wide screen television. That’s the experience to emulate to merit a premium over what is paid for cable television now. So that’s a combination of the technologies you refer to in #8,9,and10 (gaming, social, transmedia narratives) above.

    Separately, additionally, in a world of abundant choices, it will take a much better system for merchandising and discovery to sell these events a la carte as you discuss in points #4 &7 above (content bundling and content discovery).

    Think big enough and there will plenty of profit to make above the costs of the premium experience, the marketing costs of the discovery system and returning the same unit revenues to content rightsholders like Instead of sharks and elephants, content owners will be very happy to focus on what they do best and let someone else deal with the distribution technologies, transaction management, and marketing challenges.

    With kids not signing up for cable and satellite as they move away from home and opting to watch tv online, the timing is right to aim for a home run instead of a bunt.

    K. Warman Kern

  • Tzahi Sofer

    Inspiring article. I believe that viewers' engagement with the content is going to play a key role, in various ways (1st screen, 2nd screen…any screen!). Interactive TV is not something new, but now in the Internet era it can be done right and with some exciting and innovative features for content owners, advertisers, developers….this is what we do at attracTV (, already proven in use with big content owners.
    As you implied in some of your examples – let the viewers be part of the game, and it's a win for all.

  • A Smith-Chaigneau

    I hear what you say but have you actually thought about the real people in the street and how a population is catered for, not the technologists, or the likes of you or I and all those who wait for experts to reveal their thoughts, or spend hours writing their thoughts…real people the majority who have a life, a job, not as much disposable income as you might think. I will select a country outside of the USA – France…an Internet savvy country who has a traditional Broadcast TV and also a long standing PayTV sector. They have a strong technology market but all in all people have 1 TV screen in the home, maybe 2…I am talking about the masses here. Satellite (Canal+ and TPS) battled it out for rights to Football and Rugby etc. and sold PayTV packages to make money. It costs a lot for the average household and is deemed expensive, as is Sky in the UK. France then went more digital and launched DTT (Digital terrestrial) Standard Definition they went from 4 channels to 30…Content degraded rapidly (filler just like a Music CD)l. They piggybacked the Canal+ onto that DTT offer with Conditional Access…it’s fairly unsuccessful. People still watch the 4 main channels but now a little clearer with better sound…after reaching about 3million homes they decided to go HD and a new receiver hit the market…at a re-jigged higher price than the SD Boxes which by this time had dropped to 30€…so mainstream France kept buying at 30€ not at 250€ for the new box…Content in HD did not do it. Strategy failure numero uno!

    Prior or alongside the DTT rollout IPTV popped up and the Telcos went after our bucks with the 29.90€ flat fee as of today for Broadband, VOIP Telephone and TV. The infrastructure breaks down a lot! The metropolitan areas are better covered but it still goes out the rural areas poorly served. Routers breakdown, lines get cut by accident and all in the entire infrastructure is, when all said and done, weak. With the www savvy French piracy became a huge issue and they had to make a law (3 strikes and you are out) the letters are already in the hands of the biggest culprits. Back to the infrastructure. Call centres are run out of Tunisia and its forever and a day to get through the press 1 for this and 2 for that to end up with a miserable call centre clerk who hates their job (and you are charged whilst on the call) … for an engineer to come out forget it and if it’s a busy period you wait and wait and wait. I have seen cases where people have been cut off from the Internet for weeks at a time. There is always a Satellite signal, there is always a Terrestrial signal and it’s tried, tested and trusted it will not go away for some time to come that we all agree on.

    Meanwhile Broadband speeds have increased no doubt. So AppleTV and Connected TV and Boxee and Netflix etc (and French equivalents) popped up to exploit that. Here they piggyback an infrastructure that is already offering a mediocre service in terms of QoS and delivery of bits and bites and the content on the incumbent ISPs IPTV systems is not too hot. The Orange IPTV interface is clunky and slow which all drives people to moan and look for some alternative…Why not GoogleTV or AppleTV and all the content you want when you want…and yes it exists but there it all falls apart: Price of the products, more cost to the consumer for additional packages, same old slow connectivity and more cost as it is not free content that is on offer but PayTV in another form on top of the subscription that you pay for the TV anyway (including Govt. License Fee per annum on top of any PayTV package). Business Model relying on a 30€ receiver or a subscription package and receiver rental.

    So what content does the average French person want? What does the average any person in the world want…well we don't know, nor do they the most part of the time. Programme line-ups were put together for people to follow something that a person thought might make compelling viewing and created in such a way for Broadcasters to have eyeballs glued to the TV to sell advertising to buy/make more programmes etc. So now over the Internet we make a shitload of content available from anywhere in the world and people can access it, no have to find it…So we invent Search engines and now recommendation engines…to do what? Search for something that you have seen already… because if you have seen it you know about it and you have a search string in your head…and then the question is raised why do you want to watch something that you have already seen? And if you go generic like “Dora the Explorer” how do you know that you have not already seen it. It’s not the music industry, its visual and we consume differently. It’s often a last resort thing to watch a repeated show/film on TV. A hard drive full of same genre or similar genre content is very boring I can tell you.

    GUI and claiming the Remote Control with which GUI do I get to where I want: The Broadcasters or GoogleTVs GUI or Boxees GUI; how many GUIs will we have on a screen in a home?) Then when we do get into the mood and start to seek instead of being fe TV… “if you like this you might like this too” is the cqtch phrase of newTV and suddenly you are bombarded with like for like programming offering little variety. The Amazon example is “people who bought this book also bought these” – No they didn’t they bought one out of the same genre, the one they thought was the best for them. Like the music Industry it’s about the singer, books about the author, films about the actor granted so we can have one type of search that bears fruit. Variety is the mainstay of French TV – Music, Cabaret, Stand Up Comics, their own CSI called CIS of course. Their own Gendarmerie stories and a whole host of chat shows where all the guests have a book or film or DVD to promote…They also like French movies and they make damn good films. Hollywood re-makes most of them into bastardized American equivalents some with great success. The French masses are quite regular folk, people who have only so much viewing time and they are very well catered for in the market. There is no “problem to fix” just a technology trying to become something it is not supposed to be and that is a Television Medium. You are right saying that the Telcos stepped outside of what they are good at and they bleed cash today… they are going back, especially in Europe and the tide is slowly turning…but they have to do it gently, gently. They are going back to trying to monetize the pipes.

    So where is this leading you ask…well they have decided to clamp down on freeloaders (pirates). They have started to stop “all you can eat” data downloading as the masses got into iPhones saturating the infrastructure. Pay as you go is coming back. As video consumption increases the pipes have a problem and we are only at the beginning of this effect of saturation. So new bundles are being offered and the whole business model of TV is in question. Meanwhile the DTT still sends boring, banal shows to boring, banal minds who are exhausted after a long hard day in the factory or in a truck on the road….and it is consumed. My own daughter has now stopped being an active consumer over the Internet to a passive in front of the Broadcaster because after a hard day teaching at school she is now ready to be fed TV and the PVR is a nice place to fill the gaps between shows you don’t want to see…

    Yes we trundle on in the TV world inventing a new “paradigm” but in this windy discourse I have highlighted, a small part of the whole problem. Each country has different rules, different languages, different business needs and did I forget to mention GEO-LOCKING…no it has not even been mentioned anywhere but it ia feature of ALL internet OTT Services. You cannot get the BBC Servie on iPlayer in France..It is locked out. So we see/hear that TV was created for the “masses” in each country ; even with the advent of the Open Internet or World Wide Web we see that businesses still need to box cleverly, close doors and protect their businesses in order to sustain revenue in order to have infrastructure for TV programmes to ride upon. That model needs looking at more deeply to see whether TV over the Internet has a proper future or are we are just creating an OTT Internet Bubble that will surely burst just like Internet of yore…

    Nobody has actually asked this because its considered stuffy, not inventive or not innovative, however – Should we do TV over the Intenet at all? Perhaps the Internet is great for Multimedia (Text, graphics and short videos a la YouTube) and functions OK just the way it is and that the coming of full on TV Services and streaming TV will actually swallow up the bits and bytes and make “regular use of the Internet” a slow painful experience once again…Now wouldn’t that be amusing…

    Darling “Whats on TV Tonight” – “Nothing the Internet is down again Honey”.

  • jacopogio

    and what is your “actual” feeling today ? Are they ready ? Who is the leader of the pack, there ?

  • @3screenplanet

    Bundling is absolutely not dead, nor will it die soon. The form will change, perhaps radically, but aggregation/curation will always be with us. That said, smaller channel bundles and a la carte are already with us and growing. MSOs had better get a move on.

  • Rick Wingender

    Bundled sports are still not good enough!! I want ala cart completely. If I want to pay for 8 football games, I’ll buy season tickets. But, what I really want is to be able to pay $5 when the Packers are playing at the Steelers, and it’s not on Fox or CBS. Once I know the result, why watch the game? NFL Sunday ticket hasn’t yet persuaded me to get DirecTV, and it never will, as much as I love the Packers and live in TN.

    You’re right – no willingness to time-shift here.

  • David

    Excellent brain food Mark. I work for Retro TV, which broadcasts shows from the 50's, 60's, 70's, and 80's so the distance the “TV” has traveled in a past few decades stares me in the face all the time. Formerly an IT industry and then internet exec I've watched that side of things evolve rapidly as well making this revolution all the more interesting.

    I look forward to your future insights.

  • C3

    your believing old kevin kelly myths. check out his own site and the rebuttals to his posts… now a decade plus on.

    name one.;) or lets name 5. 5 who became “stars” from the dispersed internet… lets not even make then multimillionairss -only 100k a year content makers…. lets cut out “games” since thats a given-its an interctive media.

    talk music/ film/video/ image art. —- lets not tlak about “later deals” or ” a youtube that gets oprah to put them on TV for millions to see at once…. and even if they arent very good— susan boyle- they recieve old stle contracts and distribution – after.–

    easy to make noise. yes. hard to get paid… even truer. except for the pipe owners and gatekeepers..or those with large enough machines to syphon off a a hlf cent from every ad shown to every ADD child/adult:)

  • ShanaC

    What they did is very smart and very important. I would put it at 2-5 years,

    not because of technology behind it. It has to do more with the line in

    your post about the first TC shows were radio shows that adapted. We like

    fiction, and that sort of fiction that arcade fire did is very hard to wrap

    your head around as to how to do for a longer, prolonged story arc.

  • Hutch

    Smart, well written article. Love it.

  • Charliec

    Great post, Mark. Where do you think other distribution platforms like Revision3, Next New Networks and will fit in if YouTube becomes all powerful?

  • MikeFenchel

    Great post!

    I'm with a start-up technology company developing in the 2nd-screen space and got some great insight from this. Plus, now I can point potential investors/partners this way to get them excited about the potential :)

    Do you have any thoughts as to where advertising will fit in to all this?

  • Charles Baker

    An interesting (super early stage) startup in the “crowd funding for media” space is LoudSauce ( Think Kickstarter for media buying – billboards, television ads – for artists and causes.

  • Pemo

    Another great post Mark! You always have thoughtful contributions to make. I really appreciated getting your viewpoints in our video interview recently focusing on the 'female entrepreneur' conversation. Check them out here:
    Pt I Women, Its a Number's Game!
    Pt II Women Entrepreneurial DNA
    Pt III Getting Funded & Integrity
    Pt IV Venture Typology

  • Simon Applebaum

    Hi, Mark! Enjoyed your Future of TV commentary and would like to have you discuss this–and why venture capitalists, angel investors, etc. are not funding TV content and technology ventures in a major way in light of what you said here–on Tomorrow Will Be Televised, the Internet radio/podcast-distributed program covering the TV scene.
    Tomorrow is now in its fourth year on the Web, running live Mondays and Fridays at noon, Pacific time/3 p.m. Eastern time on BlogTalk Radio, whose original radio content reaches more than seven million listeners worldwide each month.
    Let's connect and have you on the program in November. Meantime, you and your Both Sides of The Table audience can hear Tomorrow Will Be Televised live over, and on replay at
    Thank you for both the commentary and considering an interview on my program!

    Simon Applebaum
    Producer/Host, Tomorrow Will Be Televised

  • Raclarkone

    Many would and do argue that Silicon Valley has lost its luster and is becoming passe. As far as Hollywood goes and similarly, some of the best is no longer produced there. I was an X-Files fan early on and for the longest time, and appreciated Vancouver BC's role in its success. Anyone seen the lastest from up there – “Intelligence”. Brilliant!

  • fredwilson

    cool idea

  • Hus510

    awesome post!! mark: what do u think about the prospects for online video companies allowing broadcasters to charge for their content through ppv? Any companies doing that in either the U.S. or globally that have had success?

  • shenan

    Clicker is running a beta of a TV-oriented interface. You can see it here:

  • Frontruner

    Awesome post. But the world chases the mighty dollar. All these companies need to make money to survive. The pie is already cut into tiny slivers. I wonder where the money is going to come from to continue make big movies and TV shows.

  • Craig Plunkett

    Actually, both are correct. A bum fight is between two drunk derelicts with no future, and is a pathetic spectacle to witness. The smartest hardware manufacturers and MSOs won’t be bums, but the dumb ones will be, and that battle will be gruesome to watch as they get left behind by the smart ones.

  • Ken Maready

    This would be fantastic! So many college basketball games ruined by the announcers that the network forces on us… I would pay a little to have good commentary, definitely.

  • Justin

    It really is amazing the revolution that is going on. So many channels are being created to showcase new talent. Even on a local level. In Chicago we have and Think about the fact that a shows can be watched and viewed by millions outside of Hollywood. Amazing time.

  • David Dos Santos

    What about YouView? Any thoughts?

  • Keith Robinson

    Well done

  • K. Warman Kern

    Mark, We own all the rights to a sports event and I have been looking for technologies which are beyond good enough for a paid experience. If you know of any which are “premium” ready which would like to have an opportunity to prove the added value, please let me know or have them contact me at katherine (at) comradity (dot) com


  • K. Warman Kern

    Mark, We own all the rights to a sports event and I have been looking for technologies which are beyond good enough for a paid experience. If you know of any which are “premium” ready which would like to have an opportunity to prove the added value, please let me know or have them contact me at katherine (at) comradity (dot) com


  • K. Warman Kern

    These comments are revealing 2 key hurdles to the future. First, until the hardware/software technology are predictable, a content creator cannot create integrated premium value interactive video. In other words, when technology was simply a distribution vehicle it didn’t effect the creation and the production of content – content could be adapted after the fact to the publishing platform. When User Interactivity becomes a part of the entertainment, then technology capabilities determine just how far the creator’s imagination can go. Is anyone working on an open standard that hardware, software, and interactive content creators can work from? With a standard, all these stakeholders could be moving forward. Also, if there is an open standard is it compatible with the standards being developed to protect personal assets (data, identity, content)? Until standards are established, investing resources is like peeing in the wind.Second, as I’ve discussed in a post following-up the Future of Media forum,, everyone seems to agree that 95% of all content on all media sucks. That’s why cable pricing is bulk and not a la carte. It is great that the cost of producing and streaming quality content is going down. But, since content producers and network people “grew up” in a world where success was about distribution not marketing yourself to the “end-user”, they aren’t natural marketers. That’s why the gap between the perceived value of content airing in primetime slots and the other 21 hours of the day is exponential. No one has capitalized on the marketing opportunity to air quality “long tail” content in these time slots – even though VCRs and later DVRs made it possible to record and watch this content when convenient. “Discovery” makes marketing long tail content possible. Google and recommendation engines are not effective if the system can be gamed. Is anyone working on a system in which the cream can rise to the top among those it is relevant to?K –

  • dbcsg

    agree w/ Fred, great post. I had an experience with my 11 year old this past spring while we watched the Stanley Cup Playoffs together, each of us on our laptops, both chatting with sports writers and using Hot Potato while watching, and at one point was asked: “why isn't this all just on the TV, mommy?”. Social viewing such a natural, can't wait to participate on all levels in this exciting next chapter.

  • Sandy

    talking of “Over the Top” video distribution – here is a new innovative product from a less known startup – .launched last month. Given that many leading internet content providers (ABC, NBC, CBS…) blocking the brouser based PC-TV solutions like Google TV and Boxee, this Veebeam may prove to be a killer product.


    Cable operators have been screwing their customers for years and there are some disruptive reasons to cut the cable. Why should we be limited to 1,000 cable channels when the internet channels are infinite.

  • A follower from Barcelona

    Bright article. Full of insights. Congrats!