For decades television was just a big box that sat in the corner
of our living rooms. We watched it, we loved it, we talked about
it. Some of us even worked in it. Now however, in this brilliant,
shiny, online world, television can mean many things. We can watch
TV on demand, via IPTV, on a Connected TV, a tablet, a mobile
phone, even a fridge. We can delight in the brilliance of our
favourite shows and instantly talk about them on websites and using
Social TV apps. And there are more people working in television
now, in more diverse roles, than ever before.
So how will TV continue to evolve? What will the world of new
television look like over the next few years? This isn't a
forecast; just a wish list of 15 things we'd like to see in New
#1 An Apple TV Set
For months people have been talking about the possibility of
Apple revolutionising television in the same way they did for
music, telephony and personal computing with the iPod, iPhone and
iPad. Imagine, they say, how superb an Apple TV set, with its
potential build and component quality, its built-in services via
iTunes, its potential for innovation could be.
We've done it ourselves.
But just forget all the speculation for a minute. Even if you
can't imagine buying an Apple TV as soon as it comes out wouldn't
you just love to see what a game-changer it could be?
Likelihood: HIGH. It's going to happen. The TV
pie - and related services that could be sold via iTunes - is just
too tempting to resist.
When? Within 2 years
#2 Ultraviolet Becoming Backwards-Compatible
The theory behind Ultraviolet is pretty
straightforward: buy a compatible DVD / Blu-ray or TV show / movie
and you can upload it to your digital library in the Cloud. After
that you can view your content on a range of connected devices.
Excellent but with one big problem: Ultraviolet is not
backwards-compatible. All those discs that you bought in the past
still need DVD / Blu-ray hardware to play them. Bummer. Surely
there's a way for the alliance of entertainment and tech companies
behind Ultraviolet to pull together, collate and document their
encryption processes for older DVDs and work this out?
Likelihood: VERY LOW. There's probably no
insurmountable technical impediment but companies would need the
political will. Besides, it would mean giving up all the revenue
from customers upgrading their DVD collections to Ultraviolet.
When? Within 3 years if ever.
#3 Wireless Electricity
"Imagine a future in which wireless electricity makes everyday
products more convenient, reliable, and environmentally friendly.
Cell phones, game controllers, laptop computers, mobile robots,
even electric vehicles capable of re-charging themselves without
ever being plugged in. Flat screen TV's and digital picture frames
that hang on the wall-without requiring a wire and plug for power.
Industrial systems and medical devices made more reliable by
eliminating trouble prone wiring and replaceable batteries.
Corp. is working to make this future a reality,
developing wireless electricity technology that will operate safely
and efficiently over distances ranging from centimeters to several
meters-and will deliver power ranging from milliwatts to
Likelihood: VERY HIGH. See also http://www.wirelesspowerconsortium.com/
When? Mass market take-up within 10 years.
#4 Foldable Screens
Last summer Sky ran a brilliant advertising campaign for its new
Sky Go service. In the ad (see below), a man takes a television off
the mount on his wall, folds it up to mobile phone size and sticks
it in his pocket. For gadget geeks all over the world this is mouth
watering stuff but how far is it from becoming a reality? Not too
far is the answer.
Sony, amongst others, is known to be developing e-paper
screens and whilst the technology isn't quite there
yet (it's still based on LCD as opposed to the lower power OLEDs),
we can look forward to truly flexible screens soon.
Likelihood: VERY HIGH
When? Mass market take-up within 10 years.
#5 True TV-Everywhere
TV is incorporated into more gadgets and surfaces than ever
before including computers, tablets, mobile phones,
doors and even mirrors.
What we need now is first, a widget that senses where in the house
we are and automatically switches on the nearest screen and second,
true TV-Everywhere where screens are synchronized so that you can
watch the same linear show, OTT service or DVD seamlessly and
without pauses as you travel from room to room.
When? There's no technical reason why this
couldn't be done immediately.
#6 New Series Available in Full On-Demand
Having commissioned the Kevin Spacey drama, 'House of Cards' and
the Norway-based comedy, 'Lilyhammer', we know that Netflix is
getting into original programming. What's more surprising,
as Adam Sewall pointed out last week in his Ooyala
blog, is that all eight episodes of the first season
of 'Lilyhammer' will be made available at once. Whereas YouTube
created online channels with linear scheduling, Netflix has taken
the opposite approach. Commenting on the decision, Ted Sarandos,
Netflix's Chief Content Officer, said: "We are trying to give our
members what they want: Choice and control. If you want to watch
one episode a week, you can. If you want to watch the whole season
this week, you can do that too."
Will this level of "choice and control" be taken up by other
Likelihood: HIGH. If the viewing audience wants
it the providers will supply it.
#7 Social TV Based on Individual Shows
There's a real buzz about Social TV right now.
As we wrote a couple of weeks ago, money-making
business models are in place, advertisers get better and greater
data on viewers and consumers get enhanced, interactive experiences
when watching their favourite shows. It's win-win all round. Social
TV platforms have, so far, concentrated on providing an all-in-one
service, that is, they cater for multiple TV shows on multiple
channels. Whilst this is a great starting point what we'd really
like to see is broadcasters and content owners providing social TV
apps for individual shows packed with extra content, communication
and interactivity. Services like zeebox would (and does) link to
those apps and indeed zeebox has in-built functionality (called
Showtime) which lets broadcasters and programme makers create those
enhanced experiences themselves - delivered within the
Likelihood: VERY HIGH
When? Possible immediately. Gentle plug: one of
our sponsors, KIT digital,
provides a superb Social TV solution.
Social TV is a brilliant concept because TV is inherently a
social experience. We watch it and talk about it all the time. And
with the rise in
single-person households, social TV services allow us
to remain in touch with our friends during our favourite shows. On
special occasions like important football matches or the Royal
Wedding, we might physically watch TV with our mates but a new
tele-immersion, will soon let us feel as if we're in
the same room even if we're on different sides of the world. We
won't be able to share the popcorn however.
Likelihood: HIGH. Tele-immersion is
ridiculously bandwidth-heavy but the applications for it (remote
working, virtual meetings etc.) are too great for it not to be
When? Within 10 years.
# 9 Hologram TV
Talking of tele-immersion,
what about hologram TV? 3D technology is so last
#10 The Full BBC Archive Coming Online
The BBC is doing a great job of digitising huge chunks of its
archive. Just last month for example, the corporation made 70 years
worth of 'Desert Island Discs' available online. And although the
TV back-catalogue work is going to take considerably longer
(there's currently no projected end date) we can already find shows
like 'Yes Prime Minister', 'Fawlty Towers' and 'The Young Ones' on
services like Netflix. We look forward to seeing other classics
coming on-stream soon (Blake's Seven!). Same goes for the ITV
Likelihood: UTTERLY SOLID. It's happening right
When? Within 3 years.
#11 Personalised Advertising
Traditional TV advertising is necessarily mass-market. Your
product may be useful to 10% of the population but your advert will
air to all 100% of the viewing public at any given time. Internet
advertising however, as we know, is much more targeted. Companies
like Brightroll, YuMe and Tremor Media are specialists at using
technology to gather data about us - what we do, what we like, what
we're interested in - from our online behaviour and then applying
that knowledge to present relevant ads to us. Google Adsense does
something similar by showing you ads related to the keywords you've
just searched for. Given that we're now watching so much content
over-the-top the question is: when will that technology be used to
serve us truly personalised pre-roll, mid-roll and post-roll
On the other hand, as Owen
Hanks of YuMe told us"Do you always want to see
personalised video ads? Most brands want reach and awareness so
personalisation isn't always a desired outcome. Brands will make
one ad for everyone but how you consume it will make it feel
personal to you too"
When? Within 2 years.
#12 Goodbye Remote Control, Hello Gesture & Voice
Remote controls are great if you want to do basic things like
switch a device on and off or change channels but they're just not
practical for more complex tasks like searching for content. And
typing in words with a remote control's alphanumeric keys is plain
annoying. Luckily, technology is moving apace and companies like
KIT digital have released functionality that, for example, lets
Xbox users control Channel 4 and Five with either voice or gesture
commands. In the video below, Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft,
demonstrates Xbox voice control.
Now we need this tech to get cleverer, more refined and for
someone to invent a "master voice or gesture" mechanism so that
we're not all shouting and waving at the TV trying to change
Likelihood: VERY HIGH. I know we've been
talking about voice recognition for years but the problem is almost
When? Within 10 years.
#13 More Brands and Publishers Getting into TV
What newspaper do you read? Metro? The Guardian? The Daily
Telegraph? And would you watch a TV show or a channel that was made
by that publisher? The Huffington Post is one company betting that
you will when it announced a couple of weeks ago
that it would be launching a live online video channel in the
summer. Over the next few months and years we're going
to see more brands get into this space - Marks & Spencer,
Net-a-Porter, Red Bull and Land Rover are already providing similar
services - and it's good to see. Consumers will get (hopefully)
great new content from experts and content-owners will be able to
engage with audiences in totally new ways.
Likelihood: VERY HIGH
#14 A Unified Video Platform in the UK
It's going to be fascinating to see how the television industry
evolves over the next few years. The big broadcasters like the BBC,
ITV and Channel 4 were already in a fight with the other Freeview
channels for viewing time and now a new front has opened up against
providers like Netflix and Lovefilm with their easy-to-access and
affordable online services. Never has so much content been
available to consumers. And there's the problem. There's now
actually so much content - from so many different sources - that
it's starting to get difficult for customers to work out what they
can get where and how much it all costs.
The hope of a unified video platform - one that shows aggregate
content from all sources - is probably me just dreaming but it
would be nice and easy wouldn't it? Could YouView take up the
Likelihood: VERY LOW. Individual services have
invested too much money, time and effort in setting up their own
#15 And Finally, Something Completely Revolutionary
Lots more brilliant television content please!
What would you like to see in New TV? Leave a comment, share
this article out and let's have a conversation!