Monthly Archives: March 2016

If All Screens Are TVs, What Then?

TVolution Last week, the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences announced that they would be awarding prestigious Emmy Awards in an expansion of the short-form series category. The deeper explanation of categories and requirements is:

The Emmys has expanded the short-form series awards to four categories: comedy or drama; variety; reality/non-fiction; and animation. Series must have a minimum of six episodes with an average length of 15 minutes or less, and be shown on traditional TV or via the Internet. Awards have also been added for short-form actor and actress as well.

What struck me is the inclusion of something that was not traditionally television within a “traditional” television environment. While not completely out of line with what the academy has done in the past – they have a membership group that focuses on digital content and they already expanded the meaning of Primetime when they included cable shows that could effectively be consumed at any time (a la HBO, Showtime, BBC) nearly two decades ago, before even DVRs and time shifting came around – it certainly seemed a bit of a land grab for an organization to stay relevant in the shifting of landscapes to an unknown future.

Then, there’s a lot of noise about Facebook making a play for the streaming rights to NFL games over the past day or so that really brings to question:

What do we consider a TV moving forward?
If all screens are TVs, how are people going to interact with them and content?
When will we start gaining from data insights in making it a better experience?

Just looking at Facebook and their want for live sports content, they’ve already driven video views on the platform to 100MM per day. The opportunity to completely do away with second screen environments – where your friend’s comments appear adjacent to the video, effectively making it a huge virtual sofa – is an evolutionary game changer. And, the predictive opportunity for delivering content based specifically on what you’ve been interested in that day or even that hour is mind-numbing.

One challenge in all of this is how closely tied to the past TV – of any form -remains. Though the rising interactivity allows for lean forward video consumption, there are far more viewers sticking to the lean back model. They still might make a selection off their DVR, VOD, or even that time-worn event of choosing a channel, but why can’t we start moving toward content delivered in linear fashion based on what you would probably be interested in right now?

Why do we see a huge amount of content highlighted based on what we watched in the middle of the night on Netflix when I’m logging in with my kids mid-day on a weekend? How come I do an incredible amount of searching on Google, yet their owned YouTube only prompts videos that I’ve already showed my kids on my computer a month prior? When will Facebook come forward with a “You’ll Also Like” product based on what video I’ve consumed and not what my friends post? (To give Facebook credit, they’ve done something like this, but it comes across as being more advertising than value-add.)

I do see a time when we will be able to turn on a stream of content – both short and long-form – and predictive technologies will line up the content and you can choose to watch or skip. The reality is that there is so much data there, it’s sort of silly not to use it. Whether it is Google or Facebook that have people exploring on a daily basis – and they also deliver content – or Cable/Satellite providers who might have relationships with data providers, there should be an ability to curate in real-time what the viewer might want right now. The use of data right now is usually only good for showing me what I was interested in then. Imagine the possibilities if we could have what is top-of-mind now delivered to us.

Perhaps this thinking isn’t even breaking enough from the TV norms as we know them. As much of content is evolutionary, perhaps this will just be a step to opening our minds and experiences to enable an content distribution/consumption cycle we can’t even yet conceive of.

For those reasons, I’m excited about the question of “What Then?”

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Uber As Verb? Or, Guide To Smart Diversification?

Yesterday, Uber launched a completely separate app utilizing their infrastructure in a super smart way – delivering food. They had been testing a version where drivers had a pre-selected set of food items for quick delivery in limited markets. They launched a menu every day, and if you wanted any items, they were meant to arrive in 10 minutes. With this new app that’s launching only in LA for right now, they’re making any item off of multiple menus available quick and conveniently – though they’re not promising it in 15 minutes. Beyond food, what they are delivering is a great example of how a company can diversify services without taking away from the core.

UberEats

Far too often, tech companies (and start-ups in general) are far too quick to change direction due to a perceived shift in the market, a side comment made by an advisor, or an investor who is looking only for a certain type of product to invest in. When they do that, the original sight and what the entire team was moving toward often lost in the jumble – without nearly spending the same time spent on SWOT testing the initial idea.

Don’t get me wrong, if the market is shifting or the original idea needs to be refined, you’ve got to address it – you just need to do so with the care and clarity of the original direction. Alternatively, you can smartly make the shift keeping your product at its core and effectively diversifying your offerings.

Sometimes those offshoots/mutated products are happy discoveries or accidents. You might have taken a cost-effective left-turn to see where you might end up and then found a pot of gold. Uber’s find might be exactly that. They’ve always been in the business of having drivers all over the place picking up products (people) from one place and bringing them to another place. Transfer the product to food instead of people and you’ve got Uber Eats – and an entirely new vertical (food delivery) shaking in their boots like the taxi industry before them.

If you want to have that agility in the future, perhaps the correct time should be taken to create a core product that can allow flexibility and the right attitude to try things and move your business smartly.