January Sets The Stage For Faster Disruption Of The TV Ad Model

The annual hype surrounding Super Bowl ads has reached a crescendo this week, and I won't add to it. (You can always go read the article I published in the Journal of Advertising Research when I was CMO of a social media listening company, proving it was more effective to preview your ad before the game than keep it secret.)

Don't let this cacophony drown out three events this month that signal 2014 as a pivotal year in the evolution of TV advertising. Any single one would be big enough news, but the fact that all three happened in just one month shows that the drivers for changes are accelerating:

  • Charter bids for Time-Warner. Behind-the-scenes overtures broke into the open when Charter went public with their desire to buy their larger rival. This event is a symptom of underlying margin pressures and technological change that we will see accelerate this year http://forr.com/TWCinplay 
  • Verizon buys Intel's online TV service. The chip giant threw in the towel in its attempts to create an over-the-top TV service, frustrated in part by content owners' intransigence. Verizon reportedly got a very slick new user interface, but also potential to become the first "virtual MPVD", an IP-delivered TV service that isn't constrained by the geographic footprint of their infrastructure or regulatory definition of its operating territory. 
  • Supreme Court agrees to take up ABC vs Aereo. Aereo's innovative use of small individual antennas to pick up broadcast television and send it to subscribers over the Internet has triumphed in several lower court rulings. But by skirting the requirement to pay retransmission fees to the network, Aereo has created stakes that are too big for the networks to allow to go unchallenged. The Supreme Court decision will put a quick end to questions about the legality of this service compared to what was shaping up to be years of lawsuits.

By the end of the year, I expect the TV landscape will be significantly different after decades of being static and predictable.

How do you think these events will change the TV industry? 

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