Televisions as we know are going to change – they are going to become an idiot box. Finally.

televisionIn recent times, I have stopped watching regular TV programs and instead use my television only for watching youtube.com (thanks to my Smart TV).

This made me wonder – what if content consumption on television was also going to change….the way it has changed on desktops and mobiles?

Before we start predicting, lets us go back to how content consumption had changed on the two most popular mediums – desktops & mobiles – in the last 10-15 years.

Medium 1: Desktop/Laptops

We used to hook up our Internet dialup (if you were in US it was probably AOL Dialup and in India it was Sify) and land on the service provider’s portal.

Everything we needed for our online life, was obtained from these portals – the walled-gardens. Be it news, recipes, celebrity pics, stocks, shopping (yes, back then Sify had ecommerce and it was called Sifymall.com), email etc. …these portals had them all.

We had the option of going beyond the walled-garden of Sify.com (and Aol.com) but we didn’t – for a while. We consumed what these portals had to offer and were satisfied. It took us a while, but one fine day we all decided that we wanted more and jumped beyond these portals and discovered other websites. Content creation & consumption was no longer just restricted to these portal owners.

The way content was created & consumed on desktops/laptops had changed.

Medium 2: Mobiles

In the developed nations, a little more than ten years back the MVAS (Mobile Value Added Services) industry took off. In India, it was more like 5-6 years back.

For academic reasons, lets also define MVAS here: any service offered by the operator, over and above their core service of “calling” is known as MVAS. This includes Short Message Services, ringtones, wallpapers, games, mobile radio, caller ring back tone, emails, mobile TV, and m-Commerce etc.

All of this content was generated by operators or their partners – and was available for consumption from the “Operator’s Deck.” This deck was a store of sorts from where you could choose what you wanted to consume. In this store, only VAS companies such as Comviva, OnMobile, ACL Wireless, IMIMobile, Spice Digital, Hungama, One97 etc could showcase their content.

Like Sify.com, here the Operator was deciding what you could see. Soon enough, users of the deck started going beyond – visiting websites or going to app stores to download and use apps.

Soon enough the deck became history – if it hasn’t in your country, just hold your breath and count till 100. This was a paradigm shift.

Now, the following happened:

– The mobile owners could choose what they wanted to consume

– The content creators didn’t have to depend on operators to push their content to the users – they could do it via the browsers or the app stores

– With so much content, everybody wasn’t sampling all the content. Self-personalization started happening

So, how will Television change?

Today’s televisions are actually quite intelligent. They have a receiver that gets video & audio feeds from TV relay stations and displays it on a screen – with the ability to display the channel of choice. There are 1000s of other features, which further enhance this core offering of a television, thus making it a great entertainer.

Now, lets try to compare televisions to the walled-garden approach in desktops/laptops and mobile:

– TV Channels decide what we CAN see and when we see – exactly like how the mobile operator could

– The content creation for television is dominated by companies such as Balaji Telefilms, Endemol, Optymystix, Vikatan Televistas, Hats Off Productions, K Sera Sera Ltd etc…..exactly how Comviva, OnMobile, ACL Wireless, IMIMobile, Spice Digital, Hungama, One97 etc dominated mobile operator deck.

– Anybody who wants his content to be consumed has to go to the TV channel and depend on them for broadcasting – exactly how the MVAs companies were dependent on the Operator

Prediction on future of Television

Soon enough Televisions will really become the idiot box, that we have been calling them since long. They will only be nice big display screens – no need for any other feature at all. The content will stop coming from TV Relay stations and instead will come from the numerous video sites that have been gaining ground for long.

YouTube-Killed-TVYoutube.com already reaches more adults (aged 18-34) than any cable network in US of A. With Youtube viewers watching more than 6 billion hours of video every month, I think we are very close to this day when the TVs become really idiot boxes. BTW, did you know that Youtube accounts for 1/5 of all mobile bandwidth consumed in the World?

This is just Youtube – there are other top-notch video properties such as Hulu.com, Vimeo.com, Dailymotion.com, Mefacafe.com. Intentionally, am not getting into video services such as Netflix.

All we will ever need is a nice display screen and a nice internet connection and our viewing needs will be solved. TV channels & production houses have already started uploading their TV serials/programs on such video sites for staggered viewing. Is it an acceptance of the impending doom?

So, what next?

We wait for TV Channels & TV content production houses to disappear & we wait for individuals to become TV content producers. We also wait for TVs to become cheaper…for now it will only be a display screen.