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The Future of Television: Sweeping Change at Breakneck Speed

- March 1, 2011 - 2 Comments

Have you ever wished you could watch the news on the bathroom mirror while you get ready for work? Wave your hand to order a pizza from an irresistible commercial? Not only watch shows, but smell, feel, and taste them, too? Turn your TV viewing into an immersive experience that allows you to engage with characters outside of the storyline and see additional scenes based on your profile and preferences? Well, you might be able to do these things and more in the not-too-distant future.

Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) interviewed 50 TV experts and examined three industry drivers – technology, consumer behavior, and business models – to paint a picture of what the future of TV will look like. Our point of view offers the first holistic vision of the future across all key dimensions of the television industry and sheds new light on the likelihood and timing of innovation.

Today, I unveiled our predictions on what the future of television might look like during my keynote presentation at OTTCon – a trade show that hosts executives from the most innovative technology, media, and entertainment companies including PayTV operators, content producers, consumer electronics manufacturers, media aggregators and service providers.

  • Is It Real or Is It TV? Sensory technology will enable new creative tools for producers and new experiences for consumers. So we’ll not only see Rachael Ray’s brownies – we’ll smell them, and eventually taste them, too.
  • Screens Do Anything, Anywhere: Instead of buying TV sets per se, viewers will buy multipurpose screens. A screen in a bedroom could display your favorite painting or change into a teleconference monitor when you’re not watching TV.
  • Don’t Just Watch, Get Involved: Viewers will break the confines of the TV episode and interact with their favorite characters in everyday life. They could, for instance, collaborate with other fans to help key characters solve a crime or mystery.
  • Channels Go Away: Soon TV will be customized to your tastes. No more searching through menus to find a show – the best streaming and on-demand TV will find you.
  • Viewers Kiss the Remote Goodbye: Consumers will use words, gestures, and devices such as smartphones and iPads to control their TVs. You might raise the volume or choose a different show with a simple flick of your wrist.

These predictions have major implications for Cisco Videoscape, and its ability to help shape the future of television. Several expected advances – for example, integration of content from multiple sources into a customized view; the ability to control the viewing experience with a variety of devices; and integration of social networking and remote communications – relate directly to Videoscape’s charter to create a new, truly immersive home and mobile video entertainment experience.

Cisco IBSG believes the current rate of change in technology, consumer behavior, and the business model will accelerate our vision of the future of TV, bringing enormous changes. While any one of these drivers in isolation would not be a catalyst for appreciable change, in combination they are unleashing forces that will permanently and dramatically alter the entertainment landscape.


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  1. Internet Television has limitless opportunity. @Nikki - very cool concept, look forward seeing more.

  2. TV is changing rapidly and the Cisco research helps clarify which emerging technologies are most likely to come out on top after all the shake up. At the moment we are in the midst of a 'content storm' where more and more different types of content delivery options are appearing on the scene. But in the end, TV is about the TV experience - and only technologies that truly improve that experience will lead this market into the next generation. We focus on the 4th finding of the Cisco study: "Channels Go Away: Soon TV will be customized to your tastes. No more searching through menus to find a show -- the best streaming and on-demand TV will find you." We know cable customers are pretty fed up with paying monthly fees only to sit down on their couch and find there is 'nothing to watch'. The video discovery experience needs to be fun, fast and make highly relevant recommendations that suit users tastes - otherwise content providers will miss more and more consumption opportunities. Once users get a taste of user centric discovery guides, I think we'll see a quick take up of this technology. Basically, I believe people love TV but are in a disenchantment period because the UX and perceived value has dropped over the years. It's time to give end users TV they can love