Picture a typical nine-year-old watching TV today. She probably has a tablet in her lap, ready to check out videos related to the Animal Planet special she’s watching. Or perhaps she’s borrowed her big sister’s phone so she can vote on this week’s episode of Dancing with the Stars. By the time she’s old enough to head off to university, however, her TV viewing experience will be markedly richer. By then, she may be inviting her friends over to watch the “sitcom” filmed by her classmates and loaded into her home’s cloud-based content library. After her friends leave, she might pick up the easy-to-use TV remote to take a high-resolution tour around the Beijing neighborhood where her big sister lives. Or maybe she’ll search for a favorite scene in one of the Twilight movies.
Good-bye to the familiar old TV set? Au contraire. For years now, the demise of the popular appliance has been predicted as the Web has claimed more and more of our screen-viewing time. The fact is, the TV is here to stay. Its role in delivering compelling viewing experiences—collective and individual—will continue. However, the big screen in the living room is indeed undergoing a metamorphosis, because what goes on behind the screen is changing dramatically.
For most of us, the TV will develop as an even more valuable vehicle for entertainment and, increasingly, for education and information. But for business leaders up and down the media value chain—from filmmakers and broadcast channels to Internet service providers to “last mile” communications operators—the reinvented TV is a huge disruption.
There will be winners—businesses that quickly grasp the nuances of the resulting changes in the creation, financing, production and delivery of content. But others may find themselves facing fierce new competition. Take, for instance, the pressure the cable companies are facing from so-called over-the-top (OTT) providers, such as Netflix and Hulu, which send their content through the Internet. In short, we’re now seeing the collapse of the walls that previously excluded new entrants to the TV business.
So how can the TV still be relevant in a tablet and smartphone age?
To be sure, TV viewing time has become fragmented—the result of busy lives that see consumers recording, for example, the Boardwalk Empire episode that the school board meeting forced them to miss. And of course, “screen time” today is shared with laptops, phones and tablets.
Accenture’s latest research on consumer viewing habits finds that fully 62 percent of TV viewers are concurrently using a computer or a laptop and 41 percent are using a mobile phone—messaging friends about a sitcom joke or fact-checking politicians’ claims, perhaps (view infographic). Coupled with the widespread availability of high-speed wireless Internet, today’s viewing experience is more interactive, more consumable and far more sharable in real time.