Long Live Linear: Social TV And Participatory Television.


I thought for my first blog on the behalf of Never.no at (www.never.no) whom,I believe is leading the social TV space, I would tackle a small topic. Ok, that might not be true, but at the least, I have changed my title from "Take That Henry Blodget at Businssinsider" to the current "Long Live Linear: Social TV and Participatory Television".

Over the past few months there has been a great debate in TV-land. Is linear TV dying? Is the TV business collapsing?  To provide the very brief cliff notes: A slew of experts on both sides of the for/against spectrum have been chiming in their thoughts providing a wide assortment of rationale on both fronts.  There have been data-points, info graphics,  trend analyses, comparative reports and a whole lot of speculation about differing technological developments across the board.

I have personally been fortunate enough to be on the front lines of inspecting and working with a lot of these new technologies as they fascinate me with their potential. That said, it‘s also a pointless debate as some are forgetting the most important element.  It’s not a matter of whether or not linear TV is dying.  It’s a matter of  whether Linear TV has the potential to evolve.  Linear TV cannot die if we can find  new ways to extend and grow it’s appeal in the interactive world in which we find ourselves.  In fact I think we may be entering a new golden age of linear television if we go about it’s development in the right manner. Linear TV can also be entirely complementary to other emerging TV developments without us having to lower our thinking to a black and white fashion.

Let's use an analogy with something near and dear to my own heart. Food. Up until the 60’s when an individual wanted a meal, they had two options. Cook it, or go to a restaurant.  Not bad options and they easily sufficed.  Then the microwave was invented. It meant that hungry diners could prep and eat any type of meal  on the fly. TV dinner? 2 mins.  Prepared Frozen Burrito? Zap and done. Trader Joe’s orange chicken? On the plate and steaming in 4 minutes without having to go buy, and then prepare a complex range of ingredients.  The microwave made food quick, easy, and on demand - whenever and whatever an eater wanted. From box to plate in minutes and it came with an assortment of food content that went hand in hand with its on-demand nature. But, this didn’t take away from restaurants. Or cooking. Restaurants didn’t die just because people could suddenly prepare new food choices with ease and lack of expense. It was just a different way to consume food with it’s own set of positives and negatives. Restaurants were still an experience, and in some ways, microwaves and novel food technology forced restaurants to become more diverse, and offer more interesting, elevated  experiences.

While I digress, the analogy is weak (I‘m hungry and one track minded). The point is there. Non-linear watching technologies have some incredible benefits as they give the ability to watch what we want, when we want and on whatever device we want. An exceptional consumer benefit. A benefit however, that can cohabitate with the very differing potential of enhanced linear experiences. The fact of the matter, is that if we can elevate linear TV to be interactive and participative with novel social functionality and new forms of content that embrace these technologies, we create an exceptional experience. Linear Television can capture and captivate in entirely new ways that are far deeper than ever imagined. It need not be replaced, it need not die, it just needs to realize its own potential in order to be elevated and enhanced by technology.  As an industry we must also realize, that there are ways to capitalize on the differences between experience types.

Given new technology platforms and products  (I.E. Check out  the case studies offered by Never.no at http://www.never.no/category/case-studies/ ,watching an event live  can call consumers to come, enjoy, socialize and interact with each other and with their programming in real time, both in the living room and across digital social circles. Non-linear doesn’t offer this type of experience. If we can conceptualize new ways to orchestrate TV events, we bring consumers into these experiences in new ways.

Watchers can and will adopt or adapt to new experiences that entertain them, intrigue them and captivate them. At the end of the day, it’s not about analyzing the trends in TV consumption and evaluating life or death of any TV model. It’s about creating new trends that allow TV to be something more than it’s ever been before.