The 'Spotifyization' of TV is upon us

TV hasn't been around for too long, but the medium itself has largely remained unchanged - give or take some more channels - since its inception. That is, of course, until the internet laid seige and the major networks and cable providers and their new competition found themselves the subject of a New York Times or Wall Street Journal story nearly every day.

There are a lot of misconceptions about the rapidly changing state of TV (something that we at Found Remote aim to clear up), which is one of the main reasons why industry veteran Alan Wolk - a Senior Analyst at the Diffusion Group, an Expert-in-Residence at BRaVe Ventures, and Chairman of the 2nd Screen Society - recently wrote and published Over The Top: How The Internet Is (Slowly But Surely) Changing The Television Industry

We spoke with Wolk about his new book and what he thinks the industry will look like in five to ten years:

Found Remote: Why did you write the book?

Alan Wolk: One, there was such a wealth of misinformation about the industry, particularly on tech blogs. So many people were writing things about the industry that were just factually wrong, and it seemed there was also a great deal of curiosity around the labyrinthine way the business operates.

Two, I’d been writing about the industry for a while and wanted to put all my ideas together in a logical way that explained the past, present and future of the industry in a way that was accessible to both industry pros and laypeople alike.

FR: What are three of the most interesting points?

Wolk: I’d say three points that might surprise people are:

A. Networks groups (e.g. Viacom, ABC Disney) are the reason why you’re forced to pay for hundreds of channels you don’t watch—not the MVPDs who would gladly sell you skinnier bundles.

B. VOD was originally viewed as a marketing tool and did not contain commercials. As a result, the deals that are in place only allow the MVPDs to run the five or six most current episodes of the show, lest people get the idea of trying to watch the entire series on VOD without commercials (that was obviously before binge viewing became a thing.)

C. Netflix stumbled onto their TV strategy: after they lost Starz and the first-run movies that went with them, they needed a plan B. Networks had hundreds of hours of TV just sitting on the shelf, seasons 2 and 3 and 4 of shows that were not yet ready for syndication. Giving Netflix the rights to broadcast those older seasons would both create revenue and drive viewers to the current season. Or at least that’s the line the networks were given. (And for a while, it actually worked, as both Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead found out.)

FR: What will the industry look like in five, ten years?

Wolk: I have a theory I call the Spotifyization of Television, where the viewer will be able to do much of what a listener can now do on Spotify: play any song over and over, create their own playlist and share it, listen to a friends playlist, listen to a professionally curated playlist, listen to a radio station, or create their own radio station. That’s a world of options and we rarely only choose one of them—it depends on the time, our mood and who we’re with. TV will operate in much the same way, with everything available on demand and viewers having much more control over what they watch. Linear TV will not go way, especially for news and sports, and the ability to monetize passionate niche audiences will mean the current Golden Age will only continue. I’m an eternal optimist.

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