Industry ponders the future of television
Ten years from now television as a device and a medium won’t exist, according to one of the predictions from screen industry executives in a new report.
Understandably, reps from the free-to-air networks reject that notion while others aren’t sure how and where content will be consumed in 2025.
The Swinburne Institute for Social Research interviewed 25 people including execs from FTA and pay TV, IPTV, production companies, social media and audience measurement.
The findings are published in the report TV 2025: Reconsidering small screen media in Australia by Swinburne’s Jock Given, Michael Brealey and Cathy Gray. The interviewers asked: In 2025, will there still be something we call ‘television’?
Yahoo!7 head of product Arul Baskaran responded, “If there is, it’ll be dramatically different from the way the word television is understood now. Right now, ‘television’ is a medium, a format and a device. As a format – the content we call television – it has the most endurance. We recognise this content whether we watch it on the plane or on the iPad or on a television set, right? But as a device and as a medium, I think television as we know it is going to disappear.
“We’ll probably have ambient screens or paint-on screens or whatever in our living rooms. I don’t think there will be a set called a television sitting there.
“As a transmission medium, I think television will be very different. It might still exist as a fairly cheap, one-to-many fixed cost way of delivering content. But I don’t think it will be consumed at the same time. The transmission is really to recorders at the other end – capturing the shows and then people play them back on demand or in whatever mix..”
His boss, SevenWest Media CEO Tim Worner, disagreed, opining, “We will definitely be watching a great deal more content over the internet, but I think we’ll still be calling it television. And I also think we will still come together as a group around the big screen in the lounge room. In many ways the television is the modern day version of the campfire.
"When there was no television, the family would gather around the campfire. Now they gather around the television, and if we challenge ourselves to keep doing our job better as storytellers and as entertainers, they’ll still be gathering around that television in 2025.”
ITV Studios Australia MD Anita Jacoby said ,”Of course there’ll be something. Whether it is television as we know it today, we still want content. So is there a television set that sits like this here? I don’t know, I really don’t know, but there will always be content.”
OzTAM CEO Doug Pfeiffer predicted, “Television as an appliance will still exist – you’ll probably see more of them in possibly every room of the household. They’re getting smarter and smarter.. You turn on the TV now and it’s connected to the internet, you can surf, you can download, you can do so much. That device, as a device, will still be called a television.
“I do think the majority of [content] still will be on the wall. It may not be linear, you might pay extra to watch it before it goes linear, you might pay more to watch it as a boxed set all collected over the whole series.”
ABC director of TV Richard Finlayson referred to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings' controversial prediction that broadcast television would be gone by 2030.
Finlayson said, “ I thought that was interesting, because it also may well be the natural conclusion of our next set of terrestrial transmission deals. It’s 15 years away, but it does feel like that is a point at which you’re going to see a really significant change in the way broadcast TV works. It will shift almost completely to an IP-delivered model. It doesn’t mean there won’t be a terrestrial service that supports all that, but the IP model will be the dominant one.”
Fetch TV CEO Scott Lorson said, “Yes – but I don’t know what it will be called. As long as we have living rooms and sofas, we will have TV.”