Broadcast TV as we now know it is probably done. Why?
- Online video will make Google, AOL, Yahoo! and others that follow suit the networks of the future and
- DVRs are killing/will kill ad effectiveness.
The latter, plus the cost of TV advertising, will ultimately lead to an exodus of advertisers. The problem for large brand marketers is: where to go?
American TV as it is now economically constituted may hang on for a while and continue to garner big ad dollars because there's no other comparable mass medium.
The Internet has scale, but it's fundamentally different than TV — you can't get hundreds of millions of people to pay attention to the same thing at the same time online. But you can potentially get them to forward links/video to one another.
The Internet also offers targeting and measurability — two critical features of advertising media "going forward."
One potential scenario is increasing "verticalization." Cable is increasingly vertical (think: The Food Network, HGTV, Animal Planet, Nickelodeon) even as the programming itself is becomming blandly similar (owing to the influence of "reality TV"). Verticalization enables more targeted advertising for a theoretically better ROI, but it doesn't solve the DVR problem.
Another scenario is TV as all-encompassing medium that delivers the Internet and related functionality, as well as programming on demand. That would potentially keep viewers in front of the TV as opposed to the computer. In that scenario (IPTV), TV becomes a potential directional medium, likely with local content. However, I think it's more likely that TV/video content comes to the Internet rather than the Internet coming to TV.
In the same way that TV didn't kill the movies, TV won't go away because of the Internet. But it will be compelled to change in response.
It will be very interesting to sit back and watch how TV evolves in the next 3 to 5 years.