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Path to disruptive TV

Every time a new technology arrives, the first thing we do is use it wrong, then we get better. Instead of rethinking what is possible and transforming the industry, we use consistently to beautify what we already did before.

Tom Jones Moreira*

We have seen this many times with new stockings. The first radio programs read big headlines, the first TV programs were teleplays with cameras directed for readers, even the same websites today reproduce paper ads in the past way. (How many times have you visited a supermarket website and it looks like the brochure that's there on your door all kneaded by the dog?)

There is a lot of talk about the disruptive architecture of OTT devices and their strength on the current business model of TVs, whether open or closed (cable, satellite etc.).

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The OTT can come embedded from the Playstation Vue, Xbox 0NE, connected TV or the Slingbox and now Amazom Prime and also the famous Netflix. We're all seeing a new range of offerings that should change the way we watch TV forever.

However, a look at these new services quickly reveals a gap in knowledge and how, until now, many companies have not been able to understand that people's behavior and expectations changed. This means a great missed opportunity. The streaming movement is not in the interest of the laity, people don't care how things get to them. They don't care about the screen that's on, they barely care about the experience.

More often than you think, we don't go all the way to the content, the same comes to us – at the suggestion of friends or friendly algorithms, in the form of feeds or auto-playing. 

In this context, two fundamental elements of the TV channel's choice architecture are irrelevant for the future, but are still used as organizational principles for trillion-dollar decisions.

Contemporary behavior is not consuming news directly from a publisher - virtually no one browses the homepage of newspapers, (this traffic continues its precipitous decline). Most people read this from somewhere else. How many of us find ourselves reading one printed newspaper in some form this week? Our relationship is no longer with an editor, it is with the article, or as a news aggregator that led us to that article. 

In the same way, in music we do not navigate to the website of our favorite record company, because we love bands or music, we do not love record companies. 

We use applications like "spotify" that extract all the music and let us browse by genre, by band or what is suggested to us by a friend or again a friendly algorithm.

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The same goes for TV, with exceptions of notable content, we do not see channels, we see shows, series.  The role of TV channels is becoming irrelevant, even if they are relevant to funding programs we love. 

Let's make a simple analogy, today record companies distribute their "artists" for the maximum number of radios they achieve and generate income with this. In this way, record companies are generators of content for radios. And many radios play the same music.

In the same way, why can't we have TV channels being content generators for various distribution media such as: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime etc.? (Just as record companies do with their bands and artists) and being paid by them. In other words, TV channels need to be seen for what they really are: Content Generators!

There is an initiative (although embryonic), where we see several channel applications being launched as aggregators of their own content, such as FOX Play, Telecine Play, Globo Play, and so on. 

While it doesn't seem like it, it's also a way of misusing technology (in the same way as early radio shows that barely read big headlines) to take the idea of TV channel and play as an app, it's a solution to problems from a more primitive era we live in today.

Who wants to watch TV by selecting on Apple TV, or chromescast 50, TV channel apps? This would be the same as opening the Spotify and selecting the Virgin record company app from a screen with 50 other music apps. 

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This doesn't make any sense today! 

Today the Prime content of TV is live events and journalism, everything else can be seen outside of a programming grid. And why not be seen on different devices, by different distributors? (the answer we all know, the business model).

This also forces a new architecture for Electronic Programming Guides, the EPG, today shows channels vertically on an irrelevant time scale. Why can a content only be seen at that time, on that day and not when desired?  It's the content that matters, right? 

And if the station were remunerated for the content viewed and for the audience of the content (as is the current model of Youtube, which pays its "channels" per view). The EPG needs to think about this change, and have the "intelligence" to offer content disconnected from the station (TV channel).  When you do a search for Rock on Spotify, the algorithm doesn't matter if the band belongs to this or that record company, but if it belongs to the musical genre that the user is interested in, it doesn't matter the record company. The EPG must be able to have this same indifference and make the search for the comedy genre in all the channels that provide this genre in their contents.

The EPG can no longer be imprisoned to time and channels, it must be a friendly algorithm for suggesting content and searching for them. 

With exceptions of news, sports or unique events such as the World Cup final, Olympics, etc. time no longer has anything to do with the programming grid.

The new world of TV has to be disaggregated from time, removed from the paradigms of apps that copy the same idea of analog TV for the world of unlimited streaming. 

Our viewing habits became more extreme, oscillating between the ultra-short 20-second clip of a bee pulling nails from a wall, or the crushing phenomenon of marathons of  12 to 20  hours selling  series like  Narcos or Black Mirror, which  Netflix has also accustomed us to.

A new way to watch TV
We are in the middle of the digital age, but we live with the legacy of analog systems.
With TV Channels slowly recognizing the importance of streaming and the internet, we must embrace new thinking and architectures. 
We need the main TV screen to be a search bar. A bar that extracts the content of all the providers in which I have registration (or that are available, thus being able to offer paid content, or at no cost relevant to my profile).
We need ad-free content to be prioritized over funded ad.
We need 4K content to be prioritized over HD content and the same over SD.
We need a Live TV button in this same EPG. 
We need to show what our friends like to see.
We need to share on Facebook the goal of our team, at the moment that happens, with a simple button of the remote control.
We urgently need "Spotify" for TV!
When selecting a show, we should receive suggestions of similar content to follow. 

Our viewers, converted to teleparticipants, and request that all content be connected, want to select a TV star and see all kinds of information about it on the screen of the tablet or mobile cell phone (second screen).

That teleparticipante wants to click on a writer and find out more about him. 
You want your remote to be able to be a control center for all content. 

These requirements are radically transforming the way we watch TV, but we still need to free ourselves from the analog paradigm and make a Disruptive TV, which can answer some questions: 
When does TV turn into video? (When does the broadcaster become a content provider?)
Which business model will cater to the masses and advertisers? (a disruptive business model does not exclude ads, on the contrary, it makes them more accessible to an engaged audience).

When the current chaos ends, a wonderful new landscape will emerge... The future is incredible, but we need to get rid of the lazy thinking and misuse we are making of our technologies.

*Tom Jones Moreira is a specialist in Digital Systems, with more than 15 years of experience in the Telecom market. He is part of the SBTVD Forum: Promotion Module and Technical Module, and member of the Teaching Board of the SET. Today he serves as coordinator of Application Engineering at Tecsys de Brasil. You can contact him via email

Richard Santa, RAVT
Author: Richard Santa, RAVT
Periodista de la Universidad de Antioquia (2010), con experiencia en temas sobre tecnología y economía. Editor de las revistas TVyVideo+Radio y AVI Latinoamérica. Coordinador académico de TecnoTelevisión&Radio.

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