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Why is cable TV the TV of the future?

The digitization of television will lead to sharper images, excellent sound quality, access to a large amount of content by the audience and greater freedom of choice.

In 1998 I stated in my lectures that in front of us was a panorama of 12 years of transition to digital television. By 2005, most television sets (transmission/reception) will be digital and by 2010, with the exception of some regions, everything will be digital. The transition from analog to digital will have been almost complete. I would like to take advantage of this article for the five-year commemorative issue of TV and Video magazine to delve a little deeper into this analysis, emphasizing the future of subscription television.

It has been stressed a great deal, and I think rightly so, that the main feature of the television of the future is its digital character. Undoubtedly, the digitization of television will lead to sharper images, excellent sound quality, access to a large amount of content by the audience and greater freedom of choice.

There will be a greater offer of programming thanks to digital video compression. Quite possibly phrases like "What is there to see today?" will be replaced by "What do I want to see today?" From apathy and acceptance we will move to an active attitude of choice and selection of what we want to see. We will not be more viewers but teleacters.

The "Video-On-Demand" (VOD), that is, the possibility of choosing what we want to see at the moment we want to see it, paying for what we choose and see ("Pay-Per-View" or PPV), will be the predominant way of relating to the video.

- Publicidad -

That is already beginning to be understood by some, but not all, cable operators in the world and in Latin America. In fact, most of the additional revenue today comes from Premium and PPV. However, to look too carefully at the VOD or PPV is not to observe the forest by looking at the tree. I am convinced that the commercial richness of ppv and VOD, or of digitalisation and interactivity for that matter, lies in the fact that they create a new environment for trade in goods and services. Let's look at this in detail.

The current transformations are based on the Advanced Digital Television Terminals (Set Top Boxes), true instruments of change. The new Set Top Boxes are based on open platforms (similar to those of a PC), come in different memory and processor configurations, and accept operating systems and applications developed by independent companies.

The main contribution of the Set Top Boxes is that they further enhance interactivity. The television of the future will be that of the Interactive Programming Guides that coexist with various services such as digital music, the Internet, information and data services, and VOD. In the future, you will be able to send your email and surf the Internet from your TV and without using a computer, you will be able to listen to digital music without buying CDs; you can buy everything you want, without leaving your house.

The terminal is a tool that allows a better knowledge of the market and consumer preferences. By collecting information about the PPV purchases subscribers made, we will know what they want. A successful operation is one that offers the public the products and services it wants to buy. The response to the PPV will allow us to know precisely the preferences of the audiences by region, age, socio-economic class and schedule. The more in tune you are with the wishes of the public, the more successful a commercial operation will be.

The technology allows you to choose between all the channels, the ones you want to watch and pay only for them. In short, all content could be marketed as PPV. In addition, the technology allows you to pay for the time of use. If I don't want to watch a channel all the time, I should be able to pay only a portion. In the future we will be able to buy a movie or a part of a movie, a scene that we like and we will pay for this segment only.

The subscriber wants to make a pre-selection, based on their ethical, moral, spiritual principles and values; support what you consider good and do not want to continue paying for what you consider bad, select and pay only for what you see. A total freedom of choice, in short democracy on television.

I am in favour of total freedom of expression. I am against censorship. It is through exposure to the bad that we know the good and it is through exposure to the good that we recognize the excellent. But at the same time, I am in favour of classification and prior information about the content. I see that the work of people who describe the content of a work, and who classify it correctly, will grow in importance. Likewise, based on this classification and previous information, I see that the deadline for decision making should be extended: whether or not we choose to look at the content that comes. Of course, we can use the technology to immediately block content through its classification.

- Publicidad -

I think we will still have channels as we know them today: a sequence of programming based on studies and preference surveys, but without my active participation in the choice of content. They are the channels that I have called the "sloth" channels. We will have thus overcome some drawbacks presented by the current system of channels in basic packages. The first drawback is that the system is a kind of dictatorship, despite its apparent and growing diversity. Someone decided what they are going to offer today for viewers and, in this way, determines what we are going to see.

It will transform our ways of understanding advertising. If we are going to "download" the content, will the advertising interval cease to exist? What would happen without the business interval? What is the importance of the "commercial break"? With fragmented attention, people only retain parts of what is being communicated. Repetition is important for understanding and retaining the message. Will the distinction between "products we know" and those we don't yet "know" be lost? And the difference between situations where the impulse to buy is already present and those where the impulse to buy is not yet present?

Are you interested in buying? Learn more. This is the case of Commercial-On-Demand and Infomercials-On-Demand. Commercials and Infomercials are contents that can be downloaded. The consumer will have more options to lower content and different prices. The public will have options being able to go down without commercials (at a higher price) or download the contents with commercials and pay a lower price.

New products will be developed. What if I just want The Specialist's shower scene"? A new role of publishing will be developed and, as a result, there will be millions of new products. Let's open the field to the imagination: 50 years of shower scenes in the cinema? The best thing about Sharon Stone? Sharon Stone by herself: My favorite scenes!

Each fragment will be transformed into a product. Each re-edition of parts is transformed into a new product. Do you want the whole movie or just part of it? There will be new marketing strategies for the audiovisual: Download the entire film and pay 5 dollars or go down to 7 scenes and pay $ 4.90. Do you want to go down with maximum sharpness or not? Do you want a quick download or not? Do you want without commercials? The strategy of the future will be "we sell anything, in any form, whatever".

We are going to see a growth in the placement of products within the contents. The so-called product placement will be predominant but now with the advantages of interactivity and hypertext. Click on what interests you and get information later. Instead, click on what interests you, stop looking at the content and get the information now. Click on what interests you and get information now, simultaneously, with the Picture-In-Picture -PIP-, without interrupting the main content. The TV screen is going to change. Many PIPs. Lots of windows. Will we see the TV screen as an Internet page? Commercials, icons, flags, all over the screen?

- Publicidad -

As a consequence, the effectiveness of a campaign will be easy to measure and the consumption indicators will be different. The number of clicks is going to be the new parameter of Digital television. Number of clicks, number of requests for additional information, number of visits to the web-site, number of purchases at the moment. Marketing will be done with a better knowledge of the market and will be much more targeted. Segmentation: the creation and offer of specific products for different market segments (or groups of consumers) increases consumption.

The effectiveness of a program will be easy to evaluate. Did people buy it or not? It will be a very effective way to measure the success of a product and its marketing. New ways to buy content? We will pay you a percentage of the sales of your film. Instant feedback for those who develop content and do their marketing: how many will buy the program in this area, this hour. Can I buy directly from the manufacturer? Logical! I have everything right here in my cellar and I'm ready to deliver it to you instantly. Are we ready for these new products, these new ways of selling them, that new marketing, that new ways of promoting, those new pricing strategies?

It is in e-commerce on television that the future lies for cable operators. Our business will be the one that attracts all types of transactions for our medium and that we can charge a commission for each transaction that is made in our environment.

All of us do a lot of transactions every day. The business consists of attracting to our media the maximum possible number of transactions, in creating the environment for these transactions to be initiated and closed and, of course, in which the operator can charge a commission for each of these transactions.

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