Television will be Asynchronous Part 2 – The Implications

Television will be Asynchronous Part 2 – The Implications

This is the second part of a two part post.  Yesterday, I discussed the movement from synchronous, broadcast television towards asynchronous, “on demand” television.  I described a continuum between broadcast TV before the VCR (where if you didn’t watch a show when it aired, you didn’t see it) to a completely asynchronous model.  Today, it is that second extreme that I want to discuss.

For the record, no one knows what the second extreme looks like, all anyone can offer is an educated guess.  We’re standing in one of those interesting places in the evolution of a technology where our direction is clear (moving towards asynchronous television) but what the final outcome will be is not.  Your guess is as good as mine here, so I’d love to see it in the comments.

The world I envision where when people consume television is dictated by the following:

  1. A release schedule for a particular TV program will be one of many suggested ways in which to consume the content.
  2. Instead, many people will setup communities ranging from a couple, to a small group of friends, to a user community online, to all the followers of a major blog.  These people will agree to watch the episodes of a particular television show at or near the same time to facilitate conversation.
  3. Some people, as they do now, will watch TV individually, much as they read individually.
  4. More people will watch no television at all or will watch it as they do a movie, with no concept of following a particular TV show.
  5. Sports, award shows and other events will remain real-time events.

One of the interesting things about this is that it would not require television shows be any particular length, as they would not need to fit in a broadcast schedule.  In the world I envision that would lead to the following changes:

  1. Some TV shows will remain a half hour or an hour.
  2. Many TV shows will take a shorter form.
  3. The lines between a movie, a sequel, mini-series and a TV show will blur considerably.

Lastly, the release schedule of shows will be far less formal.  Since many (or probably most) people will be receiving television in an entirely asynchronous manner, there will not be any pressure on TV companies to outline a programming schedule that lasts months in to the future.  In the world I envision this will lead to the following changes:

  1. The process of casting, piloting and releasing shows will shrink in size and scope.  Initial versions of TV shows will be rushed to market where actual viewers can decide for themselves and provide feedback to the networks.
  2. Shows will be canceled quickly.  There won’t be an advanced library of unaired episodes, so networks won’t have any motivation to stick by struggling shows.
  3. Advertisers will pay for commercials in a metric based system (e.g. per view) rather than in a “30 seconds on this show” format.

That’s what I see when I look in the crystal ball, what do you think?