TV Faces Looming Crisis Over an Issue That Has Failed to Keep Up With Technology

Jan 6, 2017  •  Post A Comment

The television industry is being warned of an impending crisis as the rapid advance of technology ratchets up the need for a business model that can keep pace.

In an essay that first appeared on the Techpinions website and was reported by Recode, tech analyst Jan Dawson, founder of the research and consulting firm Jackdaw, writes: “Yes, there are advances being made in technology which are improving the user experience of watching video, but it’s content rights that are still the biggest barrier to really giving consumers what they want.”

Writing from the current Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Dawson notes: “A lot of the TV-related technology on display at CES either works with or around the current system. An increasing number of connected TV devices are incorporating some kind of over-the-air element. I saw boxes and other hardware from Mohu, Sling, and others designed to capture OTA broadcast signals and incorporate them into a next-generation user interface. This is hardly dramatic new technology — broadcast has been around for decades — but it’s often still the easiest way for cord cutters to access sports and local content.”

Dawson’s piece adds: “It’s ironic we’re falling back on older technology to supplant newer coax, fiber, and satellite-based delivery, but this is the state of the TV industry today. Some of the best options simply have to work with what they’ve got — that’s an admirable reality but it often means disjointed experiences which combine OTA signals with internet-delivered streams, multiple user interfaces, and local or cloud-based storage.”

The analysis points the finger at a number of key players in traditional TV. “The reality is that some of this is merely a matter of contract renegotiations and will get worked out in the coming years, while other elements are down to content owners deliberately resisting or blocking some of the changes to the traditional business models,” Dawson writes, adding: “Cable operators have been the slowest to embrace this change, largely because they dominate the historical market.

Dawson sees a “tipping point” coming in the next two years or so when “All of this, taken together, will cause a crisis in the TV industry which will finally drive it to embrace new business models and broader distribution. And then the rights side of the equation will finally catch up with the advances in TV technology.”

Please click on the links to Recode or Techpinions to read Dawson’s full analysis.

One Comment

  1. Incorporating over-the-air element for new technology may be fine as long as you live in an area that the digital signal from local broadcasters can reach you. However, digital signals do not propagate nearly as far as the old analog signals. I live within fifty miles of TV stations supposedly within my “broadcast area.” It used to be I could pick up every station (and many outside my area) with no problems. With the switch over to digital, I cannot receive any television station and have to rely on a satellite service. New technology that depends on picking up over-air-signals for content is basically useless for many viewers who live just outside most metropolitan areas.

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