The Future of TV is apps, hmmm not quite, it’s platforms

I think we can all agree that TV needs help. It sucks, it’s archaic, it’s stuck in the past, it’s not web 3.0. You buy a cable subscription and you can only watch it on your TV and that’s one TV per box. If you want to watch it on another TV you’ll need to buy another cable box. Added to that, in an age where we also consume content on our tablets and phones, you can’t watch all the TV channels you subscribed to on your tablet or phone. There might be a few channels on your subscription that may have dedicated apps for which you can use to watch their channels but that’s it. More importantly these subscriptions in their self, are expensive. $120 for a subscription that offers you 100 channels where you only care about 20 channels is pricey. In short as earlier mentioned, TV sucks.

Enters Tim Cook. Last September at the unveiling of the new Apple TV, he declared that it was Apple’s belief that the future of TV is apps. For him a product like the new Apple TV which had a bunch of apps that could all be searched in one interface presented us with a glimpse into the TV of the future. Through Siri one could find which apps were showing the shows they wanted to watch or keep up on what were the scores of games that mattered to them while having the ability to watch highlights of the game from that screen. A perfect example of this vision of apple-istic vision of TV can be seen in the new NHL app for the apple TV. It allows you to watch live games and switch angles while watching the game while being able to switch view and check updates from other games. It’s a very slick app indeed.

NHL Apple TV App

So hence the question is, do I believe the future of TV is apps? Not quite. I will admit that apps will account for a big future of TV. I think Tim Cook vision of the future of TV is pretty interesting. A channel with an app can give you a much more colourful and interactive experience. The app would give you ways to consume multiple content at the same time whether it’s to check the score of another game while watching one game, easily switch between game streams, ask your device to repeat what what someone on TV just said. All these features would make watching TV delightful experience.

However apps don’t solve the whole TV problem. For one it makes it difficult for all content creators to easily publish and broadcast their content. That in turn makes it harder for upcoming content creators to get their content out there. They’ll have to build an app and try to get their app to be as good as the more shiny ones even if they possess great content. The TV of the future should have the same effect youtube had on content creation. It should make it easier and more accessible for content creators to broadcast their content. The TV of the future shouldn’t be monopolized by networks like Fox, CBS etc like on cable.

Also all these apps have different interfaces and this leads to an incoherent experience for the user. The TV of the future is supposed to be very easy to use. A device full of apps with different design patterns while having to keep switching back and forth between various apps is not seamless and takes away from the current ease to switch in between channels today. Apps also make it more difficult to discover new content. How would you easily hear of app XYZ if no one has told you and you have to rely in a search for it in an the app store?

Furthermore building TV through apps is piecemeal-y. That would drastically limit your viewing options. If you have to pay $8 for Netflix, $15 for HBO, 10$ for MLB, $10 for the NBA, etc you can see that it could easily add up to quite the pretty penny. One of the reason of the growth of cord cutting has been the price of cable subscriptions today. The app solution at this cost doesn’t seem like a solution.

So hence the reason why I deem that platforms are the future of TV. A single platform could be built to easily allow content creators to create a channel of their choice and easily stream or add their content for their watchers to consume. An example would be Intenu. The platform in question would allow them to easily schedule time, give descriptions and build on top of it. All they would need to do is concentrate on their content and let the platform do the rest as it should be. This a very important point, the TV of the future should make it much easier and accessible for new and old content creators. The way youtube made content creation much easier, the TV of the future should make it much easier to create new channels.

Additionally, with a platform the experience from channel to channel would be the same for the content consumer. There wouldn’t be any change in the UI on another channel that the user would need to figure out. It would be easy to use and a platform that content creators can build on within it’s parameters makes it easier to use. A platform would immediately give the consumer access to all the channels that exist on it. So the consumer could easily search for new channels and discover new content much more easily. The platform would could easily build features in it to make search amazing and easy to use for the consumers.

Most importantly building TV on a platform would make TV finally become Web 3.0. You’ll be able to switch from watching TV on your actual TV to watching on your phone as you’re about to leave the house and then later on switching to your tablet all without interrupting the experience and while having everything accessible to you. The TV of today can’t do that. Also TV today is very geo-restricted. A person from India can’t easily watch a channel from the US which prevents them from discovering content that they might like and enjoy. They are only restricted to channels Indian companies deem are worth for them. The way youtube made content accessible everywhere for everyone, the TV of the future should do the same.

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