per Delano Sento-Sé
Since its invention in the 1920s, television has been the largest medium of mass information and entertainment on the planet. In its most accessible form (the open signal), it reaches everyone at no cost – unless, of course, the price of the device itself and the obvious energy to power it. Over the years, television has fought – and often won – with other media such as print, newspapers and magazines, in addition to radio and cinema, and today it feels the spell turning against the sorcerer. TV increasingly loses space for the internet as the main information and entertainment option.
In addition to the greater versatility of content, the internet is unbeatable in terms of availability. Unlike TV (both open and subscription), the internet does not require – for the most part – that the consumer be present in front of the receiving medium on the day and time of presentation of what interests him. The vast majority of content on the internet is available at the moment the consumer wants to consume it, free of schedule and schedule. TV content providers recognize the weight of this issue and the increase in on-demand services (on demand), channel apps, networks and broadcasters, and the use of YouTube channels prove that TV shows no longer survive on TV alone.
The increasing disuse of the expression “second screen”, which served as a designation for the use of media such as the internet and mobile applications as a complement to television programs, proves that its connotation of something “separate” and “secondary” does not serve more to the present day. The world is – definitely – multimedia. And in this world, TV has long since lost its role. And because it allows you to consume “what you want, when you want it”, the internet shines more and more. It is an irreversible movement and, luckily for us, the drop in the TV audience meant that those responsible for it understood the real meaning of the saying “if you can’t with it, join it”. In addition to TV networks and broadcasters, the advertising market also understood this and today the success of brands and products can only be achieved with its exposure in different media, since the consumer market is at the same time dispersed and ubiquitous.
In addition to scheduling and programming, TV loses to the internet in terms of geography. Why charge a portable TV when it is easier to find a good Wi-Fi hotspot or have a data plan on your smartphone than to get a signal from a TV station? In addition to the “what” and the “when”, the “where” gives even more freedom to the viewer when it becomes “anywhere”.
The current model of TV based on schedules and programming has its days numbered. People no longer accept to submit to the availability of content and Milton Nascimento’s lyrics expands to “go where the people are, with what the people want, at the time that the people want”. The solution for TV is to turn 100% on demand, replace channels once and for all with icons and get rid of terms that use different – and still few – applications available from programs and broadcasters.
I want to sit in front of the TV at 4 pm, click on the icon of TV Globo, choose the option “Journalism”, then “Jornal Nacional” and see all the issues of the week available as I do today in the app, as long as at 8:30 pm the live edition icon appears. The same goes for soap operas, games of my team and series that I follow. Fits Globo, SBT, ESPN, Sony, Warner … fits any channel.
The TVs would leave the factory with icons of open content and more icons would be added according to their package contracted with providers, besides, of course, the icing on the cake: the possibility of installing applications. The increasing connection speeds would not be a problem and the 0 and 1 would replace the electromagnetic waves for good. As in most services, the big obstacle would be in the public power and the availability of public connections. A transitional solution could be, within the operating systems of TV sets, the coexistence between this new model and the current SBTV (digital TV).
Advertisers? I don’t mind watching a 30-second commercial before each show. If you think about it, nowadays all viewers see the same commercial at the time of its exhibition, which are sold by inserts. Why not sell them for “clicks”? Two people watching the same content will be able to see two different commercials. And there would also be the advantage of the algorithms, which would better decide which product or brand to show, according to the profile of the user and not just the program, enabling a more efficient media plan. Age group, income level, consumption history, audience measurement … everything would be easier to ascertain, both for agencies and advertisers.
I have been pretentiously «prophesying» this TV model for a few years with friends and colleagues in the advertising industry and I believed that Apple would change the TV with the new Apple TV this year, but the information already released about the new model does not seem to reach that much . For “the future of television”, as stated by the company, much remains to be done. But there is something I still believe: of all the companies capable of provoking a revolution in the way we watch TV, freeing the viewer from strict schedules and programming, Apple is the most serious candidate. And with your Apple TV.
This belief does not come from the hardware superiority of Apple’s equipment. Far from it. In addition to Apple TV I also have here, in the living room, Google TV (Sony), Chromecast, Roku, Fire TV, WDTV and, of course, a Mac mini as HTPC (personal computer home theater). There is also a Slingbox, but this does not count because it only sends the content of my cable TV decoder via the web. Just enter the list figuring. If we compare them all, we will see that Apple TV is not the most complete and versatile equipment that exists. It doesn’t even have a USB port to stick a USB stick on, which many of the remaining DVD players have had for years.
But that starts to change. A new operating system, a new SDK (software development kit, or software development kit) and the possibility of installing applications are already a good start. But, let’s face it, this is not new in the industry and we run the risk of, as in other models, being stuck in – as they say – the manufacturer’s ecosystem. In fact, it was this proprietary SO and SDK formula that led to the sinking of Google TV from Sony and other brands, leaving its users to “see ships” with the impossibility of installing Android apps – except those designed exclusively for the platform. And take it sideload!
And what does all this have to do with the future of television? Now, all of the equipment I mentioned is designed to be used with your television. And as profit, not fun, is the ultimate goal of all this, each manufacturer tries to force loyalty with its own platforms and services. iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon Prime and Google Play are just a few. This attempt by manufacturers to add value to equipment that exists in the millions around the world is in fact full proof of the resilience and immense importance of sitting in front of this screen looking for information and entertainment. Definitely, taking online into TV is guaranteeing your survival. And more: television still carries – and a lot – the spirit of the collective, the social, the instant sharing of content that solitary navigation on a computer does not provide. Unless you prefer to watch your team’s games alone – not with your friends.
But if it is not for the hardware, much less for the proprietary platform, how would Apple change television with Apple TV? You can name it as you like: dim-dim, greenbacks, money, snuff or, simply, money. Going towards the provision of content, associating with networks, broadcasters and film studios, facing their own productions and even, according to some, changing the American legislation on the subject are attitudes attributed to the Cupertino giant that now and then pop like rumors or rumors in the specialized press. For all this, it takes a lot of money. And money is not lacking in Apple’s cash, as we well know. Once these backstage changes are achieved, changing the hardware is the easy part. If, in the future, this proves to be true, then there will really be a revolution in the way we watch TV.
One last question may also raise doubts: how is this revolution possible if television, as already pointed out at the beginning, is a mass product and Apple does not make mass products? It is easy to see the future if we look at the past. People were already listening to music before the iPod, they were talking on the phone before the iPhone, and before the Apple Watch, zillions of watches already displayed the time and other information on everyone’s wrists. More than new products, throughout its history, Apple has set new standards, new ways, new ways to do what we have always done. Easier, more fun, more practical, more integrated and, especially, more desirable. And the whole industry followed. Television would have the same effect that we’ve seen Apple have in other areas. Or would you, these days, still be content with a cell phone without a touchscreen?
I have a passion for gadgets, I am a consumer of technology and especially Apple products. I’m not fanboy. I have too much insight to be «Fan» and too old to be «Boy». But I really admire this company for several reasons. One of the most important is its ability to innovate rather than create. This has proven itself on several occasions. As I also like television a lot, my imagination joined A with B, with C, with G, with M … and it resulted in a future for our TVs that I would really like to see.
You don’t have to agree with me. Don’t even believe it all. I believe. And I really hope for that.