With each passing day we see rapid advances in technology that leave us nearly breathless. A decade ago we had just begun to sense that CD’s would become obsolete with the release of the iPod. Then it was overnight change to flat screens and more recently, the leap from laptop to iPad. We have also seen the demise of printed books in favor of iClouds and tablets. When you think about it, there have been so many staggering advances in such a short amount of time.
Have you ever really looked at your smartphone and realized how many products it has displaced? People don’t buy watches anymore, they just check the time on their phone. They also do not need to buy voice recorders, video or digital cameras, clocks, stop watches, timers, calendars, address books, CD players or even iPods. They can do all of that with their phone. Banks even are allowing customers to deposit checks using their phones and you can remotely unlock your car using your phone. You can also program your home DVR using your phone. Phones have become the all-inclusive device needed to do just about everything in one’s daily life.
So smartphones are not just for talking anymore. Virtually every facet of our lives can be accessed and utilized from our phones. Internet accessibility has made everything digitized, and even now people are consuming entertainment through the digital realm – from reading books to watching television and movie on their phones.
All this then makes us wonder, what is around the corner? It feels like the future is here and the entertainment industry is racing to keep up. Television is not just sitting in front of a square box anymore. If the technology race is any indication, soon broadcast television won’t even be seen on flat screens. We are on the verge of a completely digital world where we could be watching television and movies using holograms. Imagine it: how easy would it be to simply set down your phone and project a projected hologram of anything you want to watch, whether it be a television show, a sports game, a concert, a movie or even to chat with someone on the other end of a call? Staring at a 2×3 inch screen is not the future; it is a glimpse of the future. The digital realm is but a series of portals – a series of ones and zeroes that transmits data into visual form.
So if we could be watching television shows holographically, what else will be different? Given the prevalence for television consumers to multi-task while watching television – surfing the ‘net, checking and responding to emails, connecting with Twitter and Facebook, even Skyping to have face-to-face time and chat about shows, there is a demand that television adapt to the newly integrated digital realm – not just as a hosting platform – but as an integral part of it.
One of the most innovative and likely scenarios will be having embed links – links which when clicked on will offer further information or take a viewer to a window where they can purchase an associated product. How many times have you begun to watch a TV show and then pulled out your iPad or logged onto your laptop to look up an actor to see where you recognized a familiar face or to check to see what happened in a prior episode ‘cause you may have forgotten what occurred? Refreshing our memories or looking up supplemental information is just one of the things that viewers crave and which should conceivably be a part of watching television shows online.
For if embedded links are possible to add to online articles and videos, then television shows certainly can do the same. In fact, television shows have already begun marking their content with Twitter hashtags to inspire online dialogue and participation in the social community for their shows.
Another long-held desire of fans of television shows has been to find out what the stars and characters are wearing when they are on screen. The ability to hover over a jacket and see where it can be purchased would be the ultimate product placement wet-dream. Viewers could also purchase songs they hear during a touching scene or find out more about a singer/band featured in an episode. Integrating products for purchase and embedding information into the actual visual form of a show could be invaluable to viewers, consumers, advertisers and even the shows themselves, which could reap the benefit from sales during broadcasts or during viewings.
Content providers (television studios and networks) have been racking their brains on how to capitalize on viewership online. Creating a captive world for viewers during an online viewing is but only one way to secure advertising dollars. Product placement will become much more significant once viewers can interact with what they are watching. It could also perceived as less intrusive and annoying to viewers if the viewer can use product placement to their advantage. For example, if a viewer purchases a product while watching a show, then they get a discount. It would take advantage of those viewers seeking to multi-task and also seeking a deal from the shows they watch. Suddenly the world of ancillary and associated products is big business.
Television as we know it is changing. With the advent of a generation of cord-cutters and the prevalence of smartphones, tablets, and laptops, consumers of television entertainment are demanding that the television industry keep up to their rapidly changing lives. The digital audience wants to watch television shows at their convenience and they want it to conform to their expectations of what television should be able to do for them. They do not just simply want convenient access and a superior visual image, they want it to do more. Television should integrate into their daily lives and provide better access to the information and products they are interested in.
Television of the future may or may not be any of these things, but we are dying to see what it does look like. Here’s to hoping that the television industry is working hard to meet our expectations about what the future of television holds. For the future is now.