This morning, the Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange (MITX) presented a panel discussion as part of its Digital Marketing Series on The Future of Television. Speaking were (left to right in the photos):
Matthew Emans, VP Product Management, Navic Networks
Brent Simon, Product Manager, On-demand Applications, Verizon FIOS
David Weinberger (moderator), Fellow, Harvard Berkman Center for Internet and Society
Adam Berrey, VP, Marketing and Strategy, Brightcove
Peter Kim, Senior Analyst, Forrester Research
Although conferences on this topic seem to have proliferated lately, there were a number of ideas that were fresh, or at least freshly presented.
Dave Weinberger started off by asking the panel if Consumer Generated Media (CGM) were going to displace most of the expensive, professionally-produced content that we conventionally think of as television. Brent Simon offered that Verizon was happy to give users access to both on its network, but that consumers were going to continue to expect high quality video that was free of the "bumpiness" usually associated with Internet delivery. The rest of the panel got involved in a long discussion of who would pay for all the expensively produced content in a world where people could fast-forward through commercials, with Dave several times bringing them back to the issue of whether viewers wouldn't really want to watch more stuff of a more grassroots origin.
Brent pointed out that among all the consternation about the fast-forward button, people were losing sight of the other buttons, specifically pause and rewind. He stated that when he and his fiancee moved into their new, empty apartment they deliberately and repeatedly watched furniture commercials, even in slow motion, and as a result bought lots of stuff. Matthew, Peter, and Adam talked about how marketers were going to need to find new ways to engage the viewer, such as by offering more interactive experiences and, of course, targeting the advertising to match the viewer's interest.
Someone from NBC mentioned that every production they do has someone on the set whose job is to look for ways the Internet can be used to involve the viewer.
Another hot topic was the role of the networks. The consensus was that their ownership of the infrastructure would become unimportant, but that they had a continuing role to play as a means of filtering and branding content and as a way of aggregating content for viewers and of aggregating viewers for advertisers. As Adam pointed out, Brightcove had some specialized channels (such as for target shooters or diabetes patients) which could appeal to equally specialize audiences, but that other content would need to be aggregated into something larger in order to attract advertisers.
A few other tidbits:
- The big network operators, such as Verizon, expect to support 5,000 to 10,000 hours of Video-on-demand.
- Mark Cuban was quoted as saying "It's easier to watch TV, than to sit there and do nothing." [he says in his blog that he was paraphrasing Aaron Spelling who said "TV is the path of least resistance from complete boredom."]