Please Don’t Touch My TV

Is TV dying, or is it just a hype?

Last Friday I attended disrupTV, an “un-conference” for media technologies that I helped organizing. The event was organized by Nir Ofir and Rafael Mizrahi, hosted by Yossi Vardi and Jeff Pulver, and was the first “un-conference” on this topic in Israel.

In one of the presentations a question was raised – what should change in TV today? The usual statements about death of TV where told.

I had an unpopular opinion: nothing is wrong with TV, please don’t touch it.

What is Televison?

TV, in its purist meaning won’t change. TV is a winning format. Good stories told in 22, 45 or 60 minutes slots is a great invention. Especially when channels realize the power of story again, and let masterpieces such as “The Wire” go on air.

And you know what? The last thing I want is an interactive experience while watching high quality shows. I don’t want to buy the bottle of wine people are drinking on screen. I just want to be entertained. So please, don’t touch my TV

The TV set

The TV set is a different story. Yes, the TV set will change. Eventually it is just a screen. I am certain the new capabilities will be introduced into the TV SET, as a device. Most of them will fail, as companies will face UI issues again and again. However, smart TV sets and appliances, such as AppleTV, has a disruptive nature that is much more profound than adding interactivity to shows. AppleTV, iTunes, and competing services are breaking the value chain of the TV industry. This is the real issue.

Changes will happen

AppleTV and iTunes enable users to buy content directly from the producers. This is a major shift in power, as channels are no longer the sole distribution method of TV content. I will drill down to this issue in my next post.

Where is the money?

There are 3 main domains that will continue to change the market, and could provide financial gain to the ones who would master them:

1. On demand experience – when programming losing force, and consumers are moving toward personal viewership experience, on demand platforms will role the media world in years to come.

2. Content Discovery – following the previous point, content discovery, the ability to find the right content for the viewer, becomes an increasingly important need. Programing is a very primitive content discovery method – we know your demographics so we will push you the right content. As mentioned before, this method is losing ground. New technologies should solve this issue in a better way.

3. Commuinty – Vardi stated that there is a missing link in the community aspects of media consumption. Programming enabled people to gather in a specific point in time and share an experience. On demand viewership killed this aspect. He believes that there is here a potential for new players.

A word for TV executives

Time will tell how TV will change. But please, please, keep producing high quality drama, funny shows and great content. Changes will come, but one thing never changes – there is always audience for great content…


9 Responses to “Please Don’t Touch My TV”

  1. 1 Encinar May 26, 2008 at 4:17 pm


    I’ve got to say that when I read in Twitter the title of your post I was a bit surprised and thought: “how is it possible? I techie that doesn’t want TV to change?” Didn’t make sense, I expected a fervent defense of TV “as it is now”.

    But as I was reading the post I couldn’t agree more. AppleTv seems to be in the right path. Being able to select WHAT I want to see and WHEN is invaluable. Actually, it has a price, but seems pretty fair considering that most of TV, and here I can only speak about Spanish TV, is basically rubbish.

    I only watch TV let’s say an 1-1h30 a day. News and a TV show. I get enought interactivity in internet, don’t need it too while I watch TV. That time is kind of a “disconnection therapy”.

  2. 2 Kfir Pravda May 26, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    Maria, thanks for your comment. If you were surprised, think about the evil eye i received from the participants 🙂 Actually, the presenter, head of Microsoft Israel, told me after the session that it took a lot of nerve to say that in the room 🙂
    Happy to read that we share the same point of view.

  3. 3 Amit Yedidia May 26, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    I think the community issue is an issue but I dont think it should be a problem. From my point of view the ideal TV is something very similar to the VOD concept.
    Every show has it’s time of release. On this exact time you can start watching the show (like the old programming concept). On any time later on you can access the show on the VOD. This method will preserve the community for live show’s like footbal games (cause no one wants to see a game when the score is already known), while giving the ability to personalize your programming.
    As of that “Content Discovery” is left as the big issue for the future.

  4. 4 Benyamin Shoham May 26, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    I can see all models co-exist in the future of TV, depending on kind of content, it’s availability and the consuming situation.

    Movies will be and should be on-demand. most suitable for Pay-per-view model. Movie channels will also exist as people don’t always know what they want to see.

    Series will have to be broadcasted as people love to talk about them in the office or coffee shop day after the new episode was played. Re-runs will be on-demand.

    News and events will be broadcasted live on platforms much like blogTV, and will be archived at special servers for later search and viewing, people will pay subscriptions to search and see historical footage (funny to still call it footage, we should start call it gigage or something).

    short personal clips, instructional material, music clips and the sort will find their way into sites like YouTube and stay there, as the viewing experience for this kind of material is much more active and distribution is primarily viral, so it’s the web for those clips. I guess they will remain free with ads.

    that’s my view of the future of TV, anyone want to guess on how those methods will be combined in one set???

  5. 5 ornit May 27, 2008 at 2:40 am

    Probably too early to eulogize TV as we know it…
    Quality content is key to TV viewing experience, and hopefully will remain in demand, whether on demand or programmed 🙂

  6. 6 Kfir Pravda May 28, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    @ Ornit – completely agree.
    @Shoham – as you said, UI is by far the most problematic issue in this aspect.

  7. 7 Robot55 June 1, 2008 at 9:30 am

    While I agree that many directions being offered by new startups and media initiatives – feel a lot like “unnecessary add-ons”.

    However –
    Protecting the current state of the TV medium is also a wrong approach – as there is a lot of wrong there that’s needs fixing.

    You mentioned “The Wire” – and I agree it’s a masterpiece, only I think it was created in spite of the TV medium it operates in, not as a result of it.
    Creator of the show, David Simon, talks a lot about the problems of “the wire” with US viewers – especially because of the strcture of TV & TV Shows.

    So again, while idiotic, get rich quick advertisement schemes are really not the way to go, there are a lot of things that could benefit form change
    Following is a list of good reasons why someone should touch MY tv:

    TV Programming – basing TV lineup on one fixed schedule, based on the needs & wants of advertisers – isn’t that concept simply lame?
    Touch My TV!

    Commercial breaks -be gone!
    Touch my TV!

    “Live studio NEWS broadcasts” on special events – that take hpurs of time and fill the air with non-sense why they are waiting for time top pass…..
    – The hell with these!
    Touch My TV!

    I’m sure we could all think of a few more items to add to the list..

    So why I agree turning the whole viewing experience upside-down for the sake of innovation – is the wrong way to go.

    I do believe, that although it has offered a few gems form time to time, TV as we know it, is MORE than ready for some changes.


  8. 8 Kfir Pravda June 1, 2008 at 9:46 am

    @Robot55 – thanks for your comment. Your points are directed to some of the ills of current TV system, and I agree with you completely. That’s why I believe, as you do, in the rise of VOD and content discovery and the fall of programming as we know it today. However, I am getting worried when I see that so much energy is invested in changing a viewing experience that works pretty well. The way I see it, TV innovation should be geared toward providing a more rewarding experience to viewers, rather then changing something that works pretty well.

  1. 1 עוגיות » מי הזיז את הטלויזיה שלי Trackback on June 1, 2008 at 11:18 pm

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