What is TV?

Tv_1a colleague last night took part in a panel at the Branded Content Marketing Association’s annual networking party.  the question to be addressed is a straightforward one.

what is TV?

it’s a simple question with a less than straightforward answer; TV is about aggregation of content.  it is the act of aggregating content that I think turns what would otherwise be a collection of stuff into TV.

the recent turmoil in the UK TV industry has largely come about because of two fundamental shifts in aggregation …which used to be a monopoly; first with the BBC and ITV, and then with Channel4 and five, there existed a limited group of aggregators that determined what content was commissioned and bought, and aggregated into TV.  this monopoly of aggregation remained unbroken and profitable until a few years ago, at which point the monopoly was broken on two fronts.

first, the monopoly was broken by the evolution from a few into many more commercial aggregators.  the rise of digital television started as far back as the early days of BSB in the early nineties, but the pace of this evolution increased with increased consumer adoption of digital satellite and latterly Freeview.  there are now over 400 commercial aggregators broadcasting in the UK, some of them directly from brands (for example the Audi Channel).  that’s a lot of fragmentation, a lot of content spread very thinly (hence the necessary rise of the strong niche channel brand) and a lot of impacts being fought over.

but it’s the second break of the monopoly that has caused most discussion of late; and far from being an evolution within the industry its a people’s revolution.  the aggregation of TV requires content and distribution.  technology has allowed citizens to produce the former, and the internet has allowed them to do the latter.  we are all – should we wish to be – content aggregators.  we are all budding broadcasters.  and a generation is learning to watch TV aggregated by commercial entities as well as fellow citizens.

what is TV?

TV is the act of consuming aggregated audio-visual content

this is important.  because if we run with this definition – and I do – it means that watching YouTube is television.  it means the monopoly is broken forever.  it means that there are hundreds of thousands of aggregators.  it means every one of us can start broadcasting right now.  and I find that a very exciting prospect indeed.

2 responses to “What is TV?

  1. aggregation of content? No. aggregation of audience? Yes- probably. people do not watch tv channels, they watch programmes. why do they watch programmes? because people like them, find them entertaining. why are these programmes made? because enough people watch them to make them (commercially) viable. why are there enough people watching them to make them commercially viable? because they’re good. and why do they want to watch it on TV? because it’s the best environment in which to view. what we are seeing is not the death of the TV programme, but the death of the TV channel. seeing a mentos fizz in a coke bottle on youtube is not watching a programme on TV. it’s watching a fuzzy 30″ clip of something that’s interesting once and once only. this isn’t going to fulfill someone’s evening entertainment.

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