“I don’t even own a TV”, “who needs cable anymore”, “Hulu”, “Netflix”, “Amazon Prime”, “torrent”, furthermore, “Google TV failed”, “Sony is going out of business”, and so on and so forth. Has the era of the TV come to an end?
Not even close.
The TV is arguably the most influential piece of technology in the modern era. TVs became commercially available in the 1930s, where stories are heard that your neighbors gathered at your place to watch major events if you had one. By the late 1940s the TVs, and the concept of a TV, spread so rapidly that they became the center piece of the living room. A device which pulled families together, to watch and share the same experience. Today, there are reportedly over 1.5 billion TVs in use worldwide. So what happened? Why all the negative talk?
Well, the internet came along. And the most appealing part about the internet is how easy it is to access it. PC, check. Tablet, check. Cell phone, check. A cell phone, that can fit in your pocket, that will cost you under €50, has the ability to take you online. And online you can have anything, even TV content. It’s easy to see how the word of doubt has spread.
It’s not just the internet’s fault, however. The television experience hasn’t really evolved through the years. The devices have changed (flatter, larger TVs), the surrounding accessories have changed (surround sound, DVR), but we are still sitting across the couch looking into that box, which is what we have always been doing. Humans get bored things to don’t change. We get bored of presidents that have been in power for too long, we get bored of eating the same food over and over again, and a lot of us already got bored of the TV as well.
But things are about to change, and I think that 2014 will be the year.
When you look at statistics, you may easily come to the conclusion that the internet has won. There are reportedly over 2.5 billion people using the internet today. Compared to the 1.5 billion TVs in use, the internet wins, right? Not quite. The internet is more of an individual experience. So when we read 2.5 billion, the number of people actually using it is not far away from that. 1.5 billion TVs however, and the number of people with access to the screen will be much higher than that, double, even, triple that number. The television has the ability to influence more people simultaneously than any other piece of technology. Producers know that, manufacturers know that, and advertisers know that.
At CES this week a large chunk of the attention grabbers are TVs. Firefox announced a partnership with Panasonic to bring Firefox OS to their TVs, and Sony made some impressive announcements as well. Late last year, Tim Cook said that “2014 will be the year”. My guess is, he wasn’t referring to the iWatch. The TV is a multi-billion dollar industry, the watch market is a negligent fraction of that.
The time has come for the television experience to evolve. To become interactive. To have remote controls with one button. To be easy for us to find what we want to watch in seconds. To be able to watch ads that are relevant to the person or people that are watching TV.
No matter what my prediction is, I don’t really know when that day will come, but what I do know is that it is coming soon. As young entrepreneurs we must keep two things in mind: People are desperate for change in the TV market, someone will sooner or later make this change, and that someone could be you! And second, don’t count TVs out. They may evolve, but they are not going anywhere anytime soon. It is a large and healthy market, with infinite ways to evolve and with a lot to offer to our communities.