An Experts Perspective on TV’s Near Future


The TV market is highly dynamic.

As consumer habits and expectations rapidly change, so does technology, effectively changing the consumer’s usage and demands yet again. Up-and-coming additional products and services that utilize this ever-advancing tech disrupt the landscape further.

We observe the technological march of progress race onwards, and the media world transform. Again and again. Entire industries have had to change, and the disruption is likely to continue. If I use the past 10yrs as my basis, my predictions for the next ten would be too moderate. No, I predict the near-future of TV, say by 2030, will have changed as much as we have seen over the past 20-30 years.

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It took 50 years for the TV to become commonplace. Another 30 to expand from a handful of constant channels to more than 500. Then, only 15 years to see streaming VOD content overtake linear television. The way we watch TV, how its monetized, and who produces it has transformed drastically. And it seems as though we are just getting started.

It’s Epidemic!

All of this change has just intensified with the not-so-recent uptake in home life. Shelter in place, as they say. What choice did we have but to live within the lives found on TV? We certainly were not living our own.

So we fueled the fire. Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, Hulu, Disney+, and a seemingly unending number of digital channels saw growth. CTV is an industry disruptor, and that’s even when left alone. But then, there was one of the largest captive audiences ever available, all for an extended time. The media industries in every area competitively heated up.

Add in the break-neck pace of technological change, and the landscape rolled like an ocean. It might be too bold to predict the future of television. Or foolish, but as an industry insider of 25 plus years, I’m confident in the following. Pay attention as many of these predictions should be carefully considered by anyone in the video field.

Cable TV, as we knew it, is over. They have no choice but to unbundle their package “deals” as the competition from VOD suppliers essentially allows viewers to pay for only what they watch.

Traditional advertising models are going the way of the dinosaur. Media companies will shift to subscription-supported models while super aggregators will handle advertising.

What’s a Cable Package?

Few industries have had to figure out how to reinvent themselves as severely as the cable TV industry. Traditionally, their delivery model was reasonably straightforward. A featured lineup of popular channels, bundled with many not-so-popular channels, packaged for purchase. The more channels in a package, the higher the purchase price. If a customer wanted a specific channel, they’d have to purchase a bundle that included it. And more often than not, that desired channel was bundled in a higher-priced package. 90% of the remaining channels in the lot would never grace your TV set.

I realize this sounds outrageous to the younger adults who pay for entertainment, but there wasn’t an alternative. Not if you wanted to watch that programming. The logic proposed was that bundling channels gave consumers a combined package that costs less than purchasing each channel separately.

This boat doesn’t float in today’s age. And the cable providers know it. Now they are moving to an a la carte approach using the same technology as their competitors- the internet. Plus, to further boost their revenue, many cable providers are providing internet service. It makes sense, as they already have the infrastructure in place. Cable will soon return to its roots, providing for a niche market of people, just like it began around the 1950s.

Money On TV…

The advertising world seems just as turbulent. In all fairness, the internet is to blame for this. The attainable data through the internet, specifically. The data has provided a significant advantage, enabling ad agencies to pair commercials to ideal target viewers.

Referred to as the Demand Side Platform, or DPS, this resource has empowered agencies to target their ad power directly to the people who would be the most interested in that ad. The market majority is held by Google although I implore you to keep an eye out on The Trading Desk. In addition to these, some platforms like Amazon, maintain their own DPS but this has both advantages and disadvantages.

Now that advertisers can target so well, they have essentially been able to corner the TV market. So what’s a channel to do? In short, build a different model for profits. We already see many of the big cable channels merge and then create subscription services. I propose that the bulk of channels will be supported in this way soon.

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Crystal Clear…

Screen technology. We are going to see significant improvements to an already well-developed product. Whether you are talking about resolution or the technology behind the pixels, it doesn’t matter because, in ten years, both will change drastically.

HDR-capable TVs. Because who doesn’t want more amazing colors? But, to display all those beautiful colors, the screen needs to be 10 times brighter than most of your TVs at home right now. To answer the call, we have some amazing lighting technologies in the pipeline. OLED is capable of the deepest blacks due to each individual pixel being able to turn off completely. But LED systems are wining the HDR race due to their superior brightness.

TV Resolution has been a point of contention from the onset. Growing from a measly 40 lines to our modern standard of 1920 x 1080 pixels. And the growth is not over yet. Ultra HD will soon be the dominant player. On the other hand, growth is not unlimited. There will be a point of diminishing returns. Many even believe that 8k will be the edge of that precipice. Why? Because 8k offers roughly the same resolution as that of our natural eyesight.

Interactivity!

Finally, I recognize that VR and 3d films have not taken off the way we might have intended. They have also enjoyed not one, but two introductions. I propose that while visionary, the technology for these inventions we’re not able to support them. Even today can not compare to the abilities we will have in just a few more years.

The improvements do not stop with the tech inside. Just as important to VR’s success is the format. Nobody, no matter how dedicated, is going to spend their 4-6 hours per day of viewing with a bulky headset. Manufacturers recognize this and we will see much lighter, better fitting form factors in the coming years. Better hand and eye-tracking will be included in these designs, as well. I even know of full-body haptic suits that are coming over the horizon.

The Takeaway

There is no way to create an accurate and exhaustive list of future technologies. There are just too many unknown variables. I have presented the ones that I am confident in and that will affect the widest range of people involved in the TV industry.

  • If you are a member of the old guard, that is, someone coming from the linear TV world, you now know the classic TV packages will go extinct. Many have even started their own OTT services.
  • If you work in advertising or the DPS, then there are only a few names to be aware of. Google, The Trading Desk, Amazon, and Roku. The rest have short life spans. Because of this, most channels have started monetizing with subscription services.
  • And if you are a producer you have a couple of things to keep in mind. First off, TVs are becoming crystal clear. Make sure your camera and lighting are spot-on in order to stay competitive. And do not neglect to up your gear to meet the again-changing resolutions. Second, you might consider creating VR or 3D-based content. If you get started early, the competition will be scarce. If you jump on after everyone else, you will be facing an uphill battle.

When the year 2030 arrives, you can tell me how great my fortune-telling powers are (or aren’t). It is going to be exciting and I hope you have walked away with some food for thought. This information is meant to help guide your decisions so you can stay around for the long haul. Your success is my success!

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Garrett Cunningham
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