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:: 09 the future of Media & Entertainment
Future Vision
09 the future of Media & Entertainment    10/21/2003 1:10:54 PM

August 2003

It has been done before…….

So where will it all be heading in the media industry? It is a question posed many times over the recent years and has been addressed in depth at many conferences and seminars. If you look at the history of predictions on the future of technology, it turns out that the majority was wrong. This is primarily caused by the fact that these predictions were in fact about technology, rather than consumer behaviour.

It is about people

The wants and needs of the consumer are practically always leading the market developments. There are, however, examples of new technology becoming a huge hit, against all expectations and predictions. The cell phone is one of them and especially the success of SMS has been quite a surprise. Let's face it: typing a text message on a tiny keyboard, constantly searching for the right letter and having the text displayed on a mini screen isn't what you might call 'user friendly'. But apparently SMS fulfilled a strong need for asynchronous and often anonymous communication, possible from any location.

People do not change habits very easily, once they have grown accustomed to them. Television has been among us for many decades, and it is not very likely that it will be surpassed quickly by other media devices. The new generation, however, is increasingly mixing different media types and devices to fulfil different communication needs, and Internet is gaining its share. This new generation will inevitably grow up into adults, becoming the establishment of middle aged workers, taking their new habits along with them and making them standard practice.

Heading for Separation

Different media usage, as practised by the young people of today, does not necessarily mean different consumption of certain content types such as (for instance) entertainment and news services. Film and video have been the major form of visual entertainment and probably will remain so in the coming decade, be it that gaming is rising fast. The way such forms of entertainment will reach us, however, will definitely change with the rise of broadband as a (more or less) point to point connection enabling personalization. So what if one would order videos on demand over Internet, and use the TV set as a display unit? If your TV has for instance 60 channels that provide programs in a push mode, Internet will become the 61st giving you all kinds of content in a pull mode. This 61st channel will actually be a gateway to probably many thousands of content providers world wide, offering every imaginable title in a pull mode as well as in a semi-push mode to make the choice of title a little easier. And more likely than not, the broadcasters of today will also join those content providers of tomorrow to reach the consumer both ways.

Push versus Pull

A world which only has room for pure 'pull', however, is not a very likely scenario. Watching Television together in the living room is still seen as a social activity, although strictly speaking it is one which temporarily kills inter-human communication. But still, experiencing the same impressions is perceived as a joint experience that can be shared.

As soon as interactivity enters the stage, the experience might loose its 'joined-ness' and will probably lead to arguments. That is why more and more households have multiple TV sets and multiple PC's with an Internet connection. Still, watching a movie together remains an important activity for a family or group of people. In that respect, the TV will stay the centre of the living room for quite some time, but media types (as variations of connectivity) will fan out, enabling a myriad of content providers from all over the world to offer their titles. I believe consumers will get used to that new situation very quickly and will experience this new digital world as something quite ordinary.

In short, there will be quite a strong separation of media types, content types and devices. Until now, TV has been a synonym for a media type, content type as well as a device. That will change. The consumer does not care at all where the content is coming from and which media type is used to transport it. As long as he or she can get the right title and play it on the device of choice, regardless whether it is about movies, news, games, gambling, chatting, or any other form of content. The choice for a device will largely depend on the choice for push or pull, for interactivity or none, and for a joined experience or rather for seclusion.


Content types will stay focussed on those aspects people go for by nature: entertainment, news, gaming and gambling, and communication. The media type -or connectivity type- will be of little interest to the consumer, the device used to experience the content will have a far more dominant position. Which device will be used for a specific piece of content on a specific moment will depend on the circumstances: experienced by a group or experienced by an individual, and in which location?

People will go for the content rather than the media or the provider. Content will have to be able to be experienced on multiple devices for various purposes. The consumer's ownership of certain content through purchase will remain an important driver, but ownership of certain devices will become just as important to these consumers. And the media as connectivity in the middle of all this? It will have a role to connect as many content providers to as many devices as possible, but will no longer get the appraisal and awe of the consumer it once had.

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