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Future of TV

- March 16, 2009 - 0 Comments

Future of TVWell, I am up to 13 followers on Twitter this week – but Twitter did connect me with a special person – which led me to write this blog on TV watching.Last night I got a tweet that Sid Topol was following me – and I was thrilled to know that in his retirement he was on Twitter – that he was still “into” technology. While I don’t know Sid’s age, I do know he is a ’47 graduate of UMass…so he doesn’t really fit the demographic for Twitter, but Sid has always been a leader in technology.Sidney (Sid) Topol joined Scientific Atlanta (now Cisco) in 1971 as president – went on to be the CEO and Chairman of the Board. It was during Sid’s leadership that Scientific Atlanta got into the video business – with “the Thrilla in Manila” in 1975 which was the first HBO satellite TV delivery – and used Scientific Atlanta satellite equipment.Sid was a television visionary. In 1982, he was quoted saying…“I think eventually there are going to be three boxes in the home. The three boxes may be incorporated all in one big box…the addressable 100-channel set-top terminal with tiering and pay-per-view…an interactive terminal for shopping, banking, security and that sort of thing…a modem which interconnects the cable system with personal computers – at high speed.”

– Sidney Topol
“…from the top”
CableVision – September 13, 1982

Television has changed over the years – and much of what Sid projected is here: VOD (pay-per-view), DVR, interactive TV, Internet video. And, Cisco is at the “heart” of providing these capabilities. We’re providing to the service providers the network that they need to provide rich-media applications to consumers.You may want to watch what we learned at MIT on the future of video.According to the Cable Advertising Bureau (CAB), in the US, there are 287 million TV-viewing households – with the average hours of TV viewing per person per day is 4.6 hours. Twenty-seven percent of the households have DVRs and a third of these viewers watch TV “timeshifted.” (A side note: there are millions of Cisco’s DVRs in consumer homes – more than any other Tivo DVRs! Their research shows 91% of consumers are aware of on-demand and that VOD revenues are on the rise.When it comes to Internet video, In-Stat forecasts that by 2012 90% of US households will have access to broadband, with 94% of the individuals watching online video. Today there are an estimated 77.8% of broadband users watching online video. And, needless to say, Cisco is all about Internet video.The Leichtman Research Group, Inc.(LRG) found in their research that 34% of US households have at least one high definition television (HDTV) set – approximately double the percentage of households that had an HDTV set two years ago. And, yet, we still have the problem where people (about 18%) think that they are watching HD when they really are watching standard definition TV (SDTV).So, while we are talking about TV and consumers not understanding HDTV vs. SDTV, I thought I would use this opportunity to update you on the DTV Transition.As you know the new government administration (Obama) moved the deadline for the over-the-air broadcast stations to move from analog to digital broadcast. The new deadline is June 12.And, from what I have heard the FCC has become much more aggressive with leading the transition…increasing the coordination among such associations as the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the National Association of Cable Telecommunications (NCTA) as well as government agencies such as the NTIA, and the FCC – and there’s a hotline (1-888-CallFCC) that can answer questions. There are websites for consumers to contact

The latest public opinion survey says that there is 98% awareness of the transition – yet, 50% still don’t really understand exactly what it means. Nielson reports that five million households are “unready” for the transition – but that is down from 13 million at this time last year. That’s good news!And, according to a recent article in Communications Daily“Of the $650 million in the economic stimulus package for the DTV coupon program, $490 million will pay for the actual coupons, new NTIA data show. That’s enough “recovery funding” for 12.25 million additional coupons, making about 46 million total with the original 33.5 million that the DTV Transition and Public Safety Act provided for. The new money raises the total for coupons to $1.83 billion from $1.34 billion.”Looks like TV is here to stay – 4.6 hours of watching per day…I wonder who is watching these hours for me today?

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