Ready or Not, the Future of TV Is Upon Us
If there was ever a telltale moment for the TV industry, it is now.
More people in the U.S. watch more programming on more televisions for more time than ever before. More money is spent on subscriptions to watch programming on TV than ever before. More money is spent on TV advertising than ever before.
But the ways TV is watched, how ads are bought, and how viewers spend their TV subscription dollars are all changing dramatically. The path that these behaviors take going forward is neither certain nor preordained, and much of that process will not be up to the consumer.
Externalities will play a big factor -- the global pandemic and its enormous impact on entertainment consumption and behaviors have already made that clear. So too will inflation, the war in Europe, and global and national responses to climate change.
However, the biggest determinant will be the actions of critical suppliers in the TV entertainment ecosystem. What device manufacturers (TVs, dongles, streaming set-top boxes), programmers, distributors or advertisers do or don’t do will determine what content will be available where and to whom, and how much folks will have to pay (or not) for it.
Recent rumors out of NBCU are that the company may pull its top shows out of their prime-time slots and air them exclusively on Peacock.
On the other side of this issue, we’ve heard Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav tell investors and the entire market that the company is bullish on the future of linear television and will no longer launch movies first -- or only -- on streaming.
Samsung is launching FAST channels in large volume -- directly distributing programming to its TV owners -- at the same time that is is raising what programming bundlers like Hulu have to pay (in cash and ad inventory) for access to those same viewers.
Local broadcast companies like Sinclair, Scripps and Nexstar are doubling down on over-the-air delivery and upping the content, distribution and promotion that they put behind their digital sub-networks, which are free to consumers and deliver more TV ad volume in aggregate than all ad-supported TV combined.
The actions above are but a tiny fraction of what has happened publicly in this space in the past month or so. The future of TV is playing out now. For those whose jobs revolve around the world of TV and entertainment video, your future is going to be significantly shaped (or reshaped) before winter is over.
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An earlier version of this blog was originally published by MediaPost.