When influential people like Mark Cuban speak out, it’s worth taking note. In a Business Insider interview a couple of years back (2015), when asked about where TV was headed over the next 10 or so years, the billionaire Shark Tank investor, NBA team owner, and media mogul, offered a measured but enthusiastic response.
He said he didn’t see it dying anytime soon. Nor did he think that it’s growth was stunted. In fact, Cuban believed that the necessary tech was already in place to give people the content they want, when they want it.
We couldn’t agree more. This is all true. The first Smart TVs appeared ten years ago and YouTube has been around since 2005. So what’s holding back innovation in TV?
Well, we’ve been so caught up in building online-first platforms, that broadcast TV fell out of favour with digital pioneers. Websites and mobile apps dominated. Plus it was probably just assumed that TV would eventually fold into the internet somehow. But that hasn’t happened yet; not by any means. While content streaming services have grown in popularity, few viewers have totally untethered themselves.
When Smart TVs first switched on, they were exactly what their name suggested: TVs with internet access — not content streaming devices. That crucial distinction persists today and remains inherent in our relationship with television.
TV Is More Than Just Content
When we stream content on Netflix, Hulu, or HBO, we expect a flawless, uninterrupted experience — that’s what we pay for, right? But TV, for all its faults, breaks us out of this closed loop.
TV orientates us in our environments. It’s the local news headlines during a commercial break. It’s that weird ad that has ‘the-guy-doing-the-odd-thing-with-cheese’ that everyone talks about at work. It’s ‘go-on-vacation-and-see-what-affects-people-here’.
For all its generic content, TV’s tailored to our lives and surroundings. Why should we want to change that window on the world? Surely we should seek out ways to make the experience more personal to us?
Tailoring The Viewing Experience
Online ads are great at personalisation (thanks cookies!). View some vacation properties, new cars, or top-of-the range computers a couple of times and you’ll see them everywhere you look on the internet for the next week or so. Admittedly it can get kind of annoying (ad blockers notwithstanding).
Similarly we may bemoan/fast forward through the same old furniture/chocolate/detergent ads that are broadcast on TV during peak viewing times. But the reality is ads are a trade off for free content. Except quality content doesn’t seem to reach mainstream TV. And the ads stay generic. They’re lowest common denominator stuff.
Considering over 700 million of us around the world have internet-connected Smart TVs, why shouldn’t the broadcast ads we see operate in a similar way to online ads — become more relevant? And why shouldn’t the content we see on TV be tailored to the kinds of things we actually like to watch?
This is exactly what we’re trying to achieve at TV-TWO — with the added bonus that viewers get paid for watching ads. Our ecosystem aims to help Smart TV sets reach their full potential. After all, the infrastructure’s already in place, there’s a need to improve things, and TV still serves a purpose in our lives.
Build In The Blockchain
Returning to the earlier question, ‘what’s holding back innovation in TV?’, and what we have now that we didn’t have ten years ago is blockchain technology. There was no way to repair the broken relationship between viewers, advertisers, and producers; no secure ledger to directly transfer value between these parties without involving some money-grabbing middleman — typically a TV network — who was running the show (in every sense) and keeping the cash.
Technology has finally levelled the playing field; meaning that TV can finally have its moment and re-establish its relevance. It’s back in the game and ready to compete — just as Cuban hoped it would, in his BI interview:
“Content will always need a front presentation,” he says. “The majority of content that we consume on demand — or through Netflix or other streaming services — defines its worth via some other medium, which is TV. As long as TV strives to compete, you’re going to keep getting better shows.”
Could TV ads leapfrog online advertising? We think so. Stay tuned…
Keen to find out more about we’re doing at TV-TWO? Take a look at our whitepaper.
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Ready For Its Closeup: TV’s Time To Shine Has Come was originally published in tvtwocom on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.