Magazine article ADWEEK

TV, the Darwinian Darling of Media: While Television Will Adapt and Survive, the Future Belongs to Web and Mobile Video Supported by Modern Standards

Magazine article ADWEEK

TV, the Darwinian Darling of Media: While Television Will Adapt and Survive, the Future Belongs to Web and Mobile Video Supported by Modern Standards

Article excerpt

Television is dead! Long live television!

This, the ancient cry of royal succession, is entirely appropriate to herald what's happening right now--literally, before our eyes--to the medium of television. TV has ruled our lives and lifestyles, our news and entertainment, our politics and (through advertising) our economics since network broadcasting began in 1949. And now, by acclamation, its sovereignty is over.

"Linear TV has been on an amazing 50-year run, [but] Internet TV is starting to grow," Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said earlier this month, in announcing superb earnings for the streaming TV pioneer. "Clearly over the next 20 years, Internet TV is going to replace linear TV."

Far be It for me to disagree. For what are the Digital Content NewFronts but an example of the revolution that is roiling television's half-century hegemony? Welt, pssst, buddy, let me let you in on a little secret: The princeling that's replacing television ... it's television.

Like the British monarchy or any long-lived royal line, TV has proved remarkably resilient and adaptable during its history. From black-and-white to color, from broadcasting to cable, from 15-minute newscasts to 24-hour news networks, from The Beverly Hillbillies to Mad Men, from wait-until-reruns to on-demand, television has been, is, and probably will be a near-perfect evocation of Darwinism, evolving rapidly to meet changes in technology, consumer interests and marketing needs.

True, the changes television is undergoing now are breathtaking, in volume and speed. Prime time has become an anachronism. Today, Emmy-winning, high-quality shows, once the domain only of a specific time and device, are available across multiple devices at any hour of the day. We rarely sit down together as families and friends to watch a TV show after dinner. We watch the programming we love, on our own, several times a day, wherever we happen to be. And that family and friends with whom we hashed it over? That would be our social graph--an ever-present (and ever-growing) real-time feedback loop.

The once-unmatchable power of the 39-second spot is also on the decline. So is the assumption that a bigger screen is always better, and the reliance on audience-size estimates based solely on samples. What we have to do now is identify the new standards that will take television, in its new digital form, Into the future.

We need new standards for content discovery. Consumers, as well as media buyers, are navigating so much choice, so much inventory, it's stymieing. …

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