Prime Time 2013: TV players need to embrace future, not fight it

Digital visionary Robert Tercek told conference delegates the TV industry needs to break the seasonal mindset and adapt RTB and performance tracking-based advertising.

Traditional TV is dead in the water.

But emerging from that vast creative pool is next-generation digital content driving the industry’s future.

That was the message from digital visionary Robert Tercek, who delivered the keynote address Thursday morning at the CMPA’s Prime Time conference in Ottawa.

“We’re doing everything we can, not to embrace the future, but to fight the future,” Tercek said of traditional broadcasters, with an eye to the US market.

He said the experience of US broadcasters is they are not going gracefully into the digital future.

Tercek pointed to a continuing clash between the open internet and the closed world of pay TV.

Evidence of this is HBO fighting shy of Netflix to protect its turf as over-the-top digital platforms set up in North America and elsewhere internationally.

“The TV industry seems to be devoting a lot of energy to thwart these new and innovative companies,” like Netflix and Aereo, Tercek insisted.

He said looking at everything on the internet as disruptive and a competitive threat was a “false dichotomy,” while adding broadcasters were mostly repackaging content for new digital platforms, and not innovating as required to get around the digital curve.

Tercek also pointed to “bubbles” in sport rights fees, advertising and retransmission fees. “Eventually one of these bubbles is bound to burst,” he warned, producing a catastrophic collapse for traditional broadcasters.

“We’ve got to think differently,” Tercek told Prime Time delegates, echoing Apple’s Steve Jobs. “You have to adapt a new style of thought,” rather than keep looking in the rear view mirror, he added.

Innovative digital platforms gave consumers new ways to allow viewers to browse, discover and consume, while giving producers new options to monetize content.

“Digital is fundamentally the future of our business,” Tercek argued.

He urged Prime Time delegates to embrace the immediacy of digital platforms, whether Facebook or Twitter, and to stop thinking of TV as seasonal, for example.

How? Broadcasters in the future will need to sell advertising by introducing real-time bidding and performance tracking.

That means the end of the Upfront presentations, as broadcasters sell real-time audiences to advertisers.

Tercek insisted advertising has been transformed from a business driven by gut decisions and creative intuition to where quantitative analysis and other digital tools now drive ad sales.

From Playback Daily