Tension Between On-Demand and ’Old’ TV

Here's an interesting discussion in MediaPost (reg. req'd) about the tension between "programmed" (read: scheduled) TV and the emerging model of "on-demand" TV (whether online or off). The theme: consumers still want programmed TV.

Implied in this discussion is the idea that without programmed TV consumers won't know where to point their TiVOs. There may be an analogy here between browse and search on the Internet. They're complementary approaches to navigating content online. In this analogy, "'browse" stands for the TV program schedule.

Indeed, without some idea of "what's on" online video consumers will have to guess and conduct random searches for content by keywords. (For past programming, i.e., "classic TV," that works fine.)

However a pure search ("on-demand") model is inefficient for both consumers and advertisers because it completely fragments the audience (despite the success of search marketing). So the future, as the article suggests, is some mix of scheduled content produced by big media companies with high production values and—dare I use the term again—a "long tail" of both low-end professional and user-generated video content that people can search for as their whims or needs dictate.

Of course it's not quite as simple as all that, but at a conceptual level I think that's what we're in store for.

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