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Analysis for 'Orb BR'

  • CES Takeaway #1: Broadcast TV Networks Were Missing In Action

    (Note: Each day this week I'll be writing about one key takeaway from CES 2011.)

    Broadcast TV networks were conspicuously absent from the buzz of last week's CES 2011, even through one of the main themes of the show was enhanced video viewing through connected devices. Aside from a deal giving boxee the right to sell CBS episodes, and an expected, forward-looking announcement that Hulu Plus would soon be available on Android-powered devices, broadcast TV networks didn't participate in any of the excitement around new connected and mobile devices.

    Their absence was both a missed opportunity, and also a clear illustration of how backward-looking their posture toward connected devices is. At a time when the entire CE industry sees the big prize of untethering video viewing from the living room, while creating boundless opportunities for new interactivity and higher engagement, the broadcast TV networks and Hulu have taken exactly the opposite approach, choosing to block access to their programs by connected devices, even though these programs are already available online.

    I've previously written about the folly of broadcasters trying to force an artificial distinction between computer and TV screens (here and here with respect to Google TV), noting that their motivation for doing so is the pot of gold they see in retransmission consent payments from pay-TV distributors. But while those payments are a bonanza, they shouldn't come at the price of non-participation with connected devices. Indeed, three key things broadcasters risk by shunning connected devices emerged at CES last week.

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