A Google TV signal for broadcasters

Commentators have often argued the internet is the major threat to TV broadcasters. In reality, broadcasters will lose their dominance to smart TV technology companies, forced to become app providers in a Google Android-driven world.

Over the last decade the internet has been earmarked as the major threat to the broadcasters. In general, what we have seen is that people – the younger generation in particular – now spend less time in front of the television set and significantly more time in front of their digital devices – PCs, smartphones, tablets and gaming machines.

However the major entertainment programming has remained more or less untouched by the internet. The only major development operates parallel to broadcasting, so-called ‘catch-up TV’. In general there has not been a shift in entertainment in the sense that people are now watching their ‘traditional’ entertainment on the internet, and in that respect the broadcasters have been able to maintain a hold on this market.

The ongoing problem is that people are unwilling to be dependent on the rigid broadcasting schedules set up by both the free-to-air and pay TV broadcasters.

However the next development in the entertainment sector may upset these broadcasting structures. This time it will be a smartphone-like development and, like the smartphone, there is a significant chance that its impact will be similar to what happened in the mobile market, perhaps over a slightly longer period – within one year Apple pushed the mobile telecom providers out of the driver’s seat.

Smart TVs have already entered the market and are capturing a larger market share week by week. But this is not what will impact upon traditional broadcasting – it will be the next development, linked to smart TVs.

Google and Apple will begin to integrate their own TV applications and software into these smart TVs. Expect a wide range of ‘apps’ from these companies that can be stored on the TV; and they will start providing access to video-based material – entertainment, documentaries, commercial entertainment and so on.

This technology will also allow for a seamless integration with personal content on other devices such as smartphones, tablets and PCs.

And, while we are talking about this, personal content will be the key driver behind 3DTV as well – with the arrival of affordable 3D cameras people are now producing their own 3D content, and they will start buying 3D-enabled smart TV specifically for these personal applications.

Obviously the couch potato experience of the TV will linger on for some time, but the broadcasters will end up as app providers to the smart TV – they will no longer dominate the broadcasting market. They will lose their gateway function. In fact they will lose generally, very much like the telcos lost to internet media and smartphone companies.

Key video app providers will include the social media companies and other internet media companies such as Amazon, eBay, Skype, etc. It is not too difficult to envisage how they will commercialise the smart TV for their own purposes.

Companies such as Samsung will lead the smart TV market and, linked to their smartphone/Android success, it will be the Google/Android technology that will become the dominant smart TV technology.

It is most probable that these developments will take the broadcasting sector by storm, and that many in the industry simply won’t know what hit them.

Paul Budde is the managing director of BuddeComm, an independent telecommunications research and consultancy company, which includes 45 national and international researchers in 15 countries. 

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