The first screen is about to catch up to the second and third screens. And it’s about time. For way too long we’ve been held hostage by the entities controlling what we’re allowed to watch on that big black box in the living room.
In the distant past there were a handful of channels. Cable expanded that number and, like a TV channel version of Moore’s Law, satellite made television even more robust. VCRs and DVRs gave us the illusion of freedom, allowing us to watch our favorite TV shows on our own schedule as opposed to one imposed by networks or cable/satellite systems.
But let’s face it: the TV experience remains largely the same as it was when the three networks represented the extent of our choice. Why? Because we still have to watch what a conglomeration of networks, cable companies and satellite providers want us to watch, and we have to PAY in order to do it.
But with the introduction of Hulu a few years ago, as well as the improved Apple TV and, of course, the much anticipated Google TV, there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. For years we’ve been hearing about a day when we can watch what we want, when we want and at a cost that we’re willing to pay. A subscription-based content market provides the freedom to customize our TV habits as opposed to forcing our square pegs into the cable companies’ round holes.
If all I want to watch is the NHL, The Office and Charlie Rose, why should I have to pay for everything else on the zillion and one channels Direct TV offers? With internet TV services like Google TV or Apple TV, I can pick and chose exactly what I want to watch, and only pay for that game, show, or, like Apple’s concept of “renting” subscription, maybe a whole season of The Office. And it goes without saying that I could use my TV to surf the web, display my photos or play my iTunes collection.
In many ways the new world promised by true internet TV is an advertiser’s dream come true. Let’s say I love the NHL, the Bruins specifically. Well now it’ll be easy for an advertiser to target my profile. And reach me, not a few million guys they hoped would be me. And from the consumer side, imagine if I had a “Block” button on my remote for those ads I’m not interested in, and a “Like” button for the ones I’m curious about.
And speaking of remotes, Google TV will allow you to use your Android or iPhone as a full-featured remote. Or should we say your third screen will be the remote for the first screen… Looks like things are gonna get interesting.