Since we're on the subject of the future of TV, I thought it would be a good time to ask an industry professional about his thoughts on the subject. Considering the increasing presence of video on mobile devices, the expanding presence of Video On Demand in the home, and the explosion of user-generated video sites such as YouTube, I'm full of questions about what's to come.
Charles Hall from Rider Research had some interesting thoughts to share with me about what we as tech enthusiasts should know about the future of TV. "The bigger question will be What is TV?" Hall said. "Is it only what comes over-the-air and from the cable and satellite TV services? Or, does it include videos that are posted on the Internet? What about online movie services that allow consumers to download movies and TV shows? Is it only what is viewed on a TV set or does it include video that is seen on a PC or mobile phone? The definition of what TV is will be greatly enlarged."
Speaking of mobile phones, what's the future of TV on cell phones? "Mobile phones already makes calls," Hall said. "They take pictures, play music, and allow users access to email and instant messaging. Consumers can download video clips of news and sports highlights, plus videos such as comedy or Webisodes of dramas that are made for watching on mobile devices. Will mobile phones give users the ability to watch TV, play back videos that are on the DVR at home and watch user-generated videos from the Internet? Mobile phones will be able to receive a few channels live—sports, news, entertainment channels such as music concerts and some popular TV shows. Users will also be able to timeshift—copy video from their DVRs and PCs—and even placeshift live TV from their home to their mobile device."
How will these changes alter TV content itself? Will we really have more niche content? How about user-generated content? "The amount of local content will increase as consumers are able to post the videos they've recorded on their mobile phone to a Web site. User-generated content is a niche market, with most consumers getting their fill after about 5 or 10 minutes at a time. User-generated content is best at filling short gaps such as watching on a mobile phone while waiting in line. For longer-length entertainment, it's hard to beat professionally produced content. TV-length and full-length shows will always be with us. They're not going away. What will change is where and on what devices they're viewed."
Video On Demand is pretty huge. Is it sounding the death knell of movie-rental shops? "Yes—and the death knell for theaters, unless they diversify their offerings. Who wants to drive to a DVD rental store when they can watch it on demand? The increased price of gas gives consumers another reason to avoid another trip through the traffic. People who use Video On Demand or who can watch a downloaded movie on their TV increasingly prefer to stay at home. The exception is movies that are best enjoyed in a theater—those with special video and sound effects. Theaters will be forced to offer other attractions such as food service while watching. There'll be fewer seats but they'll bring in more revenue. Why not? You can't get table service at home."
What are your thoughts about the future of TV?