March 14, 2014

TV Set

A woman from the 1950's proudly dusts her new TV set. Credit: Nationaal Archief / Flickr Creative Commons


If you don’t watch TV on your actual television set, are you still watching a TV show? The Emmys think so, showering three awards on the Netflix-distributed House of Cards – and putting them up against traditional shows like Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and Homeland.

So are CBS, ABC, and NBC - and even cable networks - worried?

Ken Auletta, media critic for The New Yorker, says it's complicated. Older networks have an interconnected relationship with digital players like Netflix and Amazon. Even when viewers are streaming shows, they’re using broadband provided by the cable companies. And Netflix and Amazon pay the networks hundreds of millions of dollars in licensing fees. Plus, Comcast’s recent deal with Sony to carry the first season of House of Cards shows that the battle for content is getting increasingly competitive.

Neil Hunt, Netflix’s Chief Product Officer, believes that there’s room for many different types of players in TV. “There’s still a lot of stuff that’s best delivered through a broadcast platform. Anything that’s real time: news, current events, sports.”

But one thing that's ripe for change is traditional advertising.

Marketing models that target everyone with the same message are rarely effective, and Auletta doesn’t think companies can continue “to have a third of your programming time interrupted by commercials.”

Hunt agrees and stresses that with digital marketing, “you can reach exactly the people who are interested, based on what’s relevant and what their past activity has been” so that advertising “will feel more and more like a useful piece of information.”

To hear more from Auletta and Hunt about how television is evolving and what the future holds, tune in to our full interview, above.

networks, House of Cards, Comcast, cable, Netflix, Business, Culture, television

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