What Does the Future of TV Look Like?


What does the TV viewer of the future look like? What is TV becoming? The evolution of the format, technology and content was at the heart of today’s discussion at the 2011 TV Summit, with the ultimate conclusion being that TV isn’t really TV anymore.

Brian David Johnson, a futurist with Intel, (s INTC) spoke about the change in TV audience from the pre-Internet era to today. “People are watching more TV than ever before, but how people watch TV and how people experience TV is changing at a rapid clip,” he said. And with people growing up with the current level of access, “things will change.”

TV viewing still has a live element to it, according to Philo co-founder Greg Goldman. As a social TV service that users check in to when they watch shows, Philo measures audience viewing patterns, and has found that people are still engaged with live TV. “They want that sense of community — they want to know what people are watching while they’re watching it,” Goldman said.

But the social viewing mode might be only one of many ways in which the user of the future consumes content. For Boxee co-founder Gidon Coussin, users are always multitasking while they watch content, but Western Digital (s WDC) VP of Marketing Dale Hunter Pistilli sees viewership habits as more complex.

“TV is sometimes something you want to sit back and relax and watch, but sometimes you have your laptop on,” Pistilli said. “There are different user states for how people interact when TV is on, and we need to understand depth and breadth of it. People’s relationship with TV is changing, especially as it evolves across all these screens.”

Samsung VP of Content and Product Solutions Eric Anderson pointed out that 25 percent of flat-panel TVs sold last year were IP-enabled, including 40 percent of all Samsung TVs sold. “In another year, it’ll be 90-percent enabled,” he said. “It’s coming really fast.”

Not only are people buying IP-enabled TVs, they’re also using them; according to Anderson, the activation rate on those connected TVs was more than 50 percent. “People are saying that connected TV doesn’t scare me,” he said.

But the very nature of TV is now changing. “TV is no longer TV. It’s no longer that thing on that wall, no longer that show,” Johnson said. “How people think about TV and shows is much more like an experience — it’s a mix of TV and games and social networking. TV is everything people are doing when they’re not working.”

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