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In the first MacTaggart lecture in 35 years at the Edinburgh International Television Festival to be delivered by a technologist, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt summed up the three trends to watch most in the future of TV… Mobile, Local and Social.
“Perhaps the most exciting of all, at least for a technologist like me, are the opportunities to integrate content across multiple screens and devices,” said Schmidt. “And I am fascinated by the BBC’s notion of ‘orchestrated media’ – where the show you are watching triggers extra material on your tablet or mobile, synchronised with the programme.“
And he challenged the industry to listen to the entrepreneurs and not the lawyers in order to make it happen more rapidly.
Balancing privacy and the opportunity to recommend content based on user behaviour was a point also touched on by Schmidt:
“Just remember how it felt in the old days of renting videos… Face to face with thousands of movies and trying to pick one to take home was always a struggle. That’s why a system for recommending content is so vital and what channel schedulers have been doing since the beginning of TV. But traditional scheduling is not one size fits all… Sometimes their recommendations suit me, but just as often not.”
“For those who wish it and grant permission, things could be vastly different – through a combination of algorithms and editorial nudges, suggestions could be more individually crafted to suit tastes and needs and the more you watch and share, the more chances the system has to learn and the better the predictions get… at the ultimate, it could be the perfect TV channel… always exciting, always relevant… sometimes serendipitous.”
He said that it’s not just about how choice will change in the future, but also how we watch.
“…we’re riding a second, much bigger wave of interactivity. It’s a convergence of TV and Internet screens and this time the interaction won’t happen via your Red Button – it’s on the web through your laptop, mobile or tablet. But most important of all, this time it’s Social.”
“For some shows, the online commentary that swirls around them, whether through or chat forums or blogs – has become part of the experience. Adding a Social layer to TV shows will increase viewership.”
“A social layer is something that viewers – at least a substantial number – clearly want and it’s also great for broadcasters! Trending hashtags raise awareness of shows, helping boost ratings. It can be a metric for viewer engagement, a vehicle for instant feedback, a channel for reaching people outside broadcast times and it can provide a great incentive for watching it Live.”
The Google Chairman went on to note that amazing new formats will start to appear:
“If content is King, then context is it’s Crown,” said Schmidt.
He went on to add that social signals are a very powerful driver of behaviour noting that even if reviewers trash a movie, he might watch it if three or four of his friends liked it.
“We’re just at the earliest stage of learning how best to use social signals and other taste indicators to provide more specialized content and services. And if you think this is exciting – or frightening, remember, this is only the beginning in terms of technology – we’re barely the end of the first act of the Internet Age.”