Prime Time 2012: Why TV doesn’t make any sense, and Google and Facebook do

Interactive guru Robert Tercek told the conference that broadcasters need to get their heads out of the sand and embrace social media and other emerging digital platforms.
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TV doesn’t make any sense.

That’s what delegates at the Prime Time conference in Ottawa heard Thursday from interactive guru Robert Tercek.

Not TV programming, the founder of General Creativity told attendees at the Canadian Media Production Association’s annual gathering.

Tercek pointed to TV’s business model, which he argued was out-of-date and full of paradoxes, and which was set to be swept away by a new digital “ecosystem.”

He painted a future where fixed media will be replaced by digital software, where consumers can choose what content they want and when they want it.

And in that world, broadcasters will become little more than software recorders.

“TV is turning into an app,” Tercek predicted. “It’s just another app that runs on someone else’s platform.”

He added that the digital future will be one of virtual goods, like Machinima, which serves up gaming video, and search, thanks to Google.

“These changes are changing us, as an audience,” he argued.

But despite this coming industry tsunami, Tercek said a TV business in transition remains very much stuck in denial, especially about cord cutting.

As yet, the number of cord cutters are few, but consumers are mulling it over.

“The intenders, the people who are considering it, and experimenting with online video, they’re a real thing,” he told the conference.

Tercek questioned whether release windows make sense anymore in an emerging digital world awash in online video and content.

Another area of denial comes with litigation and legislation being preferred to innovation to compete in the digital space.

Digital platforms like Aereo, which broadcasts TV online, and Boxee, are likely to be met with lawsuits and constraining laws spurred by Hollywood, Tercek predicted.

Major carriers are fighting back, he added, with TV Everywhere and Anywhere offerings.

The problem is it’s increasingly a crowded field, with major cable, telcos and studios each rolling out their own offerings.

“They can’t all win, but they certainly can compete,” Tercek said, which will only hasten a world in which the consumer is king and broadcasters become software recorders.

Netflix is available on 800 devices. Samsung is rolling out its Smart TV offering, he pointed out.

And all TV content today is mediated through social media, as audiences refer to the content on Twitter and share it on Facebook.

“Facebook is truly staggering,” Tercek said, and demands that the TV industry embrace a platform that increasingly vacuums up their audiences and creates still newer forms of digital content.

Elsewhere, TV is getting social with Hulu, which allows online viewing of video where audiences can also post comments, and social features like Facebook Connect.

And early obstacles faced by Google TV may have had broadcasters cloud-sniffing.

Tercek said remain on your guard for a player out to win the war.

“Google is not stopping. They bought Motorola. They’re building expertise in the real-time insertion of advertising. They’re moving into display,” he said.

Where does that leave broadcasters?

Tercek conceded TV execs are innovating, as they keep telling him.

But he argued they’re doing so in a defensive crouch, and are looking to sustain their current business model.

Tercek told broadcasters to embrace “disruptive innovation,” to join next-generation players like Facebook and Google that are breaking up the current media model to survive and thrive on the other side.

The CMPA’s Prime Time conference continues to Friday.

From Playback Daily