We live in a world of content abundance, there is literally anything you could possibly want, at any time, on any device. But finding content amidst the jungle of available material is difficult. Well, finding anything good anyway. With so much available how do I know what to watch? It’s hard because there is too much to choose from. Human beings are simply not hardwired for infinity of choice, there are numerous books, studies and tests that illustrate this paradox of choice. When humans are faced with an overwhelming amount of choice we suffer from decision paralysis, we simply cannot cope, we buy less, we consume less.
There’s something nice about TV, it’s easy, it’s grazing friendly. To illustrate this point, I used to have a bookcase full of DVD’s, all my favourite movies, on-demand as it were, available to me at any time. All I had to do was get up and put Goodfellas (one of my favourite movies) in the DVD player. But I never took it out of the wrapper, and yet I have watched it when TV station chose to show it through the years, at least 10 times! That’s the beauty of the TV model, TV stations and networks curate the best content from around the globe and make it digestible, grazing-friendly, manageable for us. And the problem is that the wealth of content is ever expanding, in addition to everything new that is added every day, there is an ever expanding back-catalogue of content. On you tube alone there are thousands of hours of Irish television archived content, including every episode of Wanderly Wagon, if you’re interested (see it’s not just cats skateboarding)!
Curation of content is vital, and will become more so in the future. TV stations will play an even more important role here, powered by back end content optimisation engines making content discovery and navigation simpler and more intuitive by automating the process. My “channel” or newsfeed will be populated with content that other “people like me” have watched and liked. If they like it, I should like it, right? Data is an honest broker. Viewing behaviour will be analysed in real time, connecting to all the other connected devices, analysing data of another matching my profile, seamlessly serving me content recommendations. Content engines of the future will be behaviour based, everything will happen in the background as opposed to laboriously typing in actor or programme names, genres or anything like that. And if I watch some content, hate it and turn it off never to finish watching it again, my TV will learn and go back out to all the other connected televisions armed with this new data, reworking its algorithm. TV content, whether delivered via cable, satellite, from the cloud or streamed via the internet, has the ability to transcend the screen, content delivered in a shared viewing occasion is culturally significant. TV creates talking points, we see this whenever an act unjustly gets voted off the X-Factor, whenever Dunphy and Brady go toe to toe or whenever a cat gets shot in Love/Hate.
You don’t get the same level of talkability when people are watching content in different timelines, it’s no fun talking to your mate about season 3 of House of Cards when he’s on season 2. And you most certainly never read or hear about the latest shocking twist in Better Call Saul in the newspaper or on radio. I will always want to be part of these shared occasions for my brands, shared viewing of the best of content, curated by people who know what “people-like-me” like, broadcast in real time. The buying process may (will) be automated, the delivery won’t be linear and my advertising involvement may be in more integrated ways than a 30 second spot, but “TV” as a concept will survive for a while longer. By “TV” I mean live and real time content broadcast by major networks. Nigel Walley, Managing Director of Decipher who was the keynote speaker, made many great points yesterday, but one that struck home is that there’s something nice about sitting down with friends of family and watching something together, something that tech developers can’t seem to understand when they talk about content consumption personal devices! TV will repurpose itself, it will reinvent itself and will adapt, it’s something TV has had to do all its life, it has survived Betamax and VHS, will outlive DVDs and Blue Ray and is already a comfortable bedfellow of PVRs, YouTube and Apple TV. There’s life in TV for a while yet……………………..