Cordless: The Radical Redefinition of Television
Alternative distribution – specifically Internet delivery of video known as Over The Top TV (OTT) – did not sneak up on the television industry. Internet Protocol TV and other options for video via the World Wide Web have been well known for decades, but adopting them would have upset established business models, especially the essential (and sometimes controversial) relationships between networks and cable providers. Changing course was too great a business risk. Of course, the technology wasn’t going away. By not taking the risk, TV opened the door for disruption. New creators and distributors eagerly went where television traditionalists wouldn’t: direct to the audience via the open Internet, without the need for conventional middlemen or distribution schemes. No cable, no dish and no antenna required. The early success of OTT was a paradigm-breaker for consumers, producers, distributors and advertisers; forcing a radical redefinition of the television business where consumer freedom of choice was the first priority. The fallout will define the winners and losers of what can be seen as Television’s Third Act.
The rapid development of digital technology destabilized what was once a very tightly defined industry. Lulled by decades of slow-burn advances and well-established revenue streams, the TV ecosystem grew fat on a seemingly impenetrable business model dictating how content was made, distributed and monetized. Besotted by profits sustaining symbiotic entanglements of economic nepotism, the industry rolled through the first decade of the Internet era like a gas-guzzling sedan scoffing at the Tesla plugged in along the highway.
For the fleet-footed, this is a time of great opportunity. For the slow to adapt? It’s an extinction-level event. How did the venerable institution of TV suddenly become a battleground between prosperity or fossilization? Equal parts ignorance and arrogance.