Industries in Depth

What the evolution of television means for the world

Rajeev Raman
Founder and CEO, 1 Mainstream
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If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth even more. Television has been, and continues to be, one of the most important communication and entertainment tools for the world at large. As access to high-speed internet continues to expand and, more significantly, the speed of access in people’s homes continues to rise, we are witnessing a dramatic transformation in breaking down the walls of control around the TV in the living room. Internet-delivered video is very quickly making the evolution from grainy videos of a kid falling off a skateboard to premium content such as 24/7 news, films and professional content that is often indistinguishable from traditional cable or satellite TV offerings.

Until very recently, the business of TV has been driven by content rights established by territory. The reason is simple. The method of delivering TV was limited to coaxial cable to the home or a satellite dish. Installing and operating either of those two methods is expensive and, in most countries, requires regulatory approval. Consequently, the content that flows through those access methods remains restricted by territory.

YouTube has changed consumer perception in this regard, but history books will most likely attribute YouTube’s contribution to giving everyone a chance to express themselves by video. For a long time, its tagline was: “Express yourself”. Live television has not embraced YouTube for many of the above reasons, and because the platform does not give premium content creators, such as a 24×7 live news operation, the chance to operate profitably. The internet as a delivery mechanism for TV has none of the territorial limitations and has already started to bring about change in how content rights are negotiated.

Reaching audiences directly

It’s hard to buy a television these days that isn’t a “smart TV”. Samsung TVs, Apple TV, Roku, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, iPads, tablets and Microsoft devices are ubiquitous. In the US alone, if you were to add up the number of tablets, smart TVs, streaming players and connected gaming consoles, you would see that we have nearly 100% penetration. That is a remarkable statistic. In other words, there isn’t a household that can’t be reached if you are available on these connected devices. This, in turn, creates an amazing opportunity for premium content creators to reach audiences directly.

In just the past 12 months, HBO, CBS and Dish launched services aimed at doing exactly that. CBS News and Sky News have launched a 24/7 streaming news service that is widely available. Sky News is available in many parts of the world where people are able to look at the same headline through a lens other than the one they typically access on their traditional TV.

News, entertainment, sports, documentaries, cooking and travel channels can have a significant impact on lives, from broadening awareness and education to relaxation and enjoyment in a world filled with tension and stress. Perhaps the most common global routine is to turn on the TV in the evening. It’s amazing to see the move to using internet technology to deliver video bringing about change within so many aspects of the content industry and making the world a smaller place at the same time.

Full details on all of the Technology Pioneers 2015 can be found here

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Author: Rajeev Raman is Chief Executive Officer and Founder of 1 Mainstream, a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer.

Image: Children watch television in the living room of an apartment in New York January 13, 2011. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

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