What's The Future Of Cable Television?


Television In The Future

Is television dead? Journalists have been saying so for the past few years. Yet the average American spends five hours and eleven minutes in front of the television per day—that's nine years of their lives in front of the TV. And with 54 percent of 4-6 year olds still preferring to watch TV than spend time with their fathers (Statistics Brain), we highly doubt that this particular pass time is going anywhere any time soon. Like its competing forms of media, television has been undergoing constant change to hold our minimal attention spans for that much longer.

The question, then, is not “when will television truly be dead,” but “what can we expect from television in the future?” While we don’t have a crystal ball or a deck of tarot cards on us, industry trends have taught us a lot about what to expect from the future of TV. Here’s what we found:

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With more and more illegal downloads and streaming of television shows, the television and movie industries are going to have to reinvent the way they make money, as the music industry is attempting to do now through applications like Spotify. With 68 percent of Europeans alone streaming or downloading movies for free, there’s no telling how many Americans are doing the same.

But all this really means is that networks need to find a new way to monetize their shows. Vince Gilligan, creator of the hit television showBreaking Bad, noticed the ways that illegal streaming and downloading can lead to more money through brand awareness. “In some ways illegal downloading has helped us, certainly in terms of brand awareness,” Gilligan admitted in an interview with BBC. While brand awareness is crucial to the success of a show, TV producers need ways to monetize beyond good publicity.

There are a few different ways that networks can incentivize watching TV honestly or monetize pirated content. One way of doing this is by using audio watermarking technology, which premiered at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), but has mostly fallen by the wayside. This technology uses higher frequencies than the ear can hear to sync up with a tablet and smart phone app showing featured content and extras from the network as the viewer watches the show. By charging for the app, charging to subscribe to the show, or even just running ads, networks will make a killing by expanding the two-screen viewer experience.

Another alternative method that will be used in the future is live streaming content through a free Spotify-esque platform for shows. This super platform will act a lot like a normal television and give networks and studios the money they earned. Plus, it could show related content and sync up with social media to show your online friends what you are watching.

Method Of Viewing

There’s really no surprise on this front: viewing methods have been diversifying since the beginning of the smart phone and tablet craze. In fact, according to Forrester Research15 percent of adults in the US watch four or more hours of TV online per week. People want to watch television at home and on the go, whenever and wherever they want to.

One innovation making headlines lately is Apple’s “iTV,” which is rumored to have ring as a remote control. The ring and the television would respond to the user’s movements, allowing him or her to control their televisions like a Jedi. Technology like this ring, along with the motion sensor technology released by the gaming industry, will definitely be common in the future as less and less people desire fumbling around for a remote to control their television sets. Another option is voice commanded TV, much like Siri, but on a bigger scale. Along with Netflix, these controls will extremely simplify the viewer experience.

Our screens will adapt too, and while they might not be curved (as was promoted at this year’s CES in Las Vegas), high definition will be brought to a whole new level, creating a picture that is most likely better than real life. The highest resolution of TV yet, 4k, which packs four times the punch compared to a normal high definition television, will be a thing of the past as polished pictures grace our eyes. They’ll be as seamless as real life, and not pixilated no matter how close or far away you look.

Social TV

Remember when you had to call in to vote for your favorite American Idol contestant? While those days are over, the social television trend definitely isn’t. One of the fastest growing trends in TV, social TV is any platform that supports television as well as social interaction. Generation Y’s obsession with social media platforms will feed these campaigns, which could lead to higher demands for social TV.

Imagine a world when you could get live updates from your Facebook news feed on the side of your television screen while watching the newest episode of The Walking Dead. You can find out how your friends are reacting in real time without moving your eyes from your television. This split-screen access is right around the corner, as Facebook has already interacted with companies like Mass Relevance to integrate social media. The cross-pollination of the technology world will undoubtedly lead to some interesting combinations.

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Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

In a word, the future of TV is simplification. You’ll be able to watch television from any media you choose for free without breaking the law; your voice, your body, or your hand will be the remote for your TV screen; and you’ll be able to socialize without moving your eyes more than a few centimeters. It’ll be that simple.

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