The Slow Demise of (Traditional) TV

A couple of interesting reads this morning:

1. TechCrunch touting the launch of Hulu. an online joint venture between NBC and News Corp. to distribute television shows, movies and short clips.
2. A story in the Globe & Mail looking at how interaction is apparently the way to encourage people to keep watching television.

Either way, traditional TV is either changing or dying depending on how you want to look at it. The rapid emergence of online video and the growing ubiquity of broadband – both wireline and wireless – means video has become a personal, any time, anywhere experience. This contrasts with television, which is still predominantly appointment-based – be on the couch at this specific time on this day – despite the growing popularity of PVRs and devices such as the Slingbox.

The gap between watch-as-you-go/watch-when-you-like and traditional TV will only widen as services such as Joost and Hulu become easily to use and offer more compelling and engaging content. Meanwhile, television will continue to suffer because it’s still a one-way experience even though the industry has been talking about it becoming interactive for years. For example, do you remember all the excitement about t-commerce (a.k.a. television commerce where you could see an actor wear a great sweater, and then you could buy it)?

The demise of traditional television is fascinating because it’s coming at a time when people are spending more money than ever to purchase new LCD and plasma televisions. When you’ve got a 50″ high-definition television in your living room, what you’ve really got is a better way to watch movies and sports as opposed to something you need to watch Desperate Housewives or Survivor.

Traditional television is dinosaur, and will continue to be so until the Internet is seamlessly integrated into the hardware using software/technology that is user-friendly and consumers are willing to pay to use. So forget about all the talk about interactivity, it’s just window dressing for suppliers trying to convince people they need bells and whistles to enhance their TV experience.


- Mathew Ingram isn’t convinced Hulu is going to resonate with consumers given it’s a lot like TV.

- NewTeeVee’s initial take is mixed. Thumbs down because it’s only offering advertising-suported streams; thumbs up for having a solid library of old and new content.

- Inside Silicon Valley on how Hulu is “screwed”.

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  • Hil

    We bought our high-def to get the most from the new generation video game systems. It’s huge too. I’m a little ticked because I can’t rearrange the furniture like I used to (which may have been a secondary motivation for the husband).

    We were without television from 2002 until 2006, and when we got it back again I was amazed by how many reality television shows there were. This is where audiences are getting that interaction … but there’s also shows on DVD, available online, through gaming systems, through iPods. TV is expanding (and surviving imo) by taking advantage of that “I want it now” mentality.

  • Rob Hyndman

    I think the best way to “encourage people to keep watching television” is to make TV that isn’t complete shite. That seems to be beyond the reach of the industry these days.

  • Magnus

    My wife was going over the monthly bills and she is always shocked how much we pay for cable TV. We have the second highest package you can buy with the movie channels and good mix of specialty channels. I have to be honest, we must watch only 25% of all the channels we have, if that.
    They try and push the watch what you want bundles but you still end up with some channels you will never watch.
    I like watching TV and video online because it’s 100% a la carte, I watch what I want, when I want.