TV's Web revolution sizzles at CES 2011: Can your cable company survive?
CES 2011 in Las Vegas is showcasing gadgetry to make TV truly mobile. Can the old guard media companies survive the revolution? Surprisingly, signs are that they will.
Every January, technology enthusiasts pore over the hottest news from the International Consumer Electronics Show for hints of the big trends in personal tech.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
This year is no exception. The drumbeat from the annual post-holiday gadget frenzy in Las Vegas is the rise of the Internet-enabled television set and the proliferation of iPad-inspired, tablet-style mobile viewing devices that allow consumers to watch TV wherever, whenever.
“The overall trajectory of what is happening when it comes to viewing television content is TVs with online access, iPads, and mobile phones – anything having to do with Internet access,” says Paul Levinson, professor of communications and media studies at Fordham University in New York and author of “New New Media.”
While the appetite for viewing TV programs on the Internet is growing by “leaps and bounds,” he says, viewership of traditional television has leveled off or declined. Indeed, viewership of TV content on the Web doubled in the past year, according to a 2010 survey by the Boston research firm Altman Vilandrie & Company and the San Francisco-based market research firm Peanut Labs.
Lurking just behind all those shiny new toys, is the $64,000 question that has hit every established media company facing an upstart technology over the past 60 years: where do they fit in with the emergent tech?
What happens to the old guard?
Cable and satellite companies have a big stake in keeping people tethered to their monthly subscriptions, and even broadcast television has yet to figure out just how to make the ad-based free content model pay off on the Web.
So as this latest technological revolution proceeds, what happens to the old guard of cable, satellite and broadcast TV?
“Cable and satellite and broadcast companies are all rapidly adapting to this inexorably changing new world,” he says. This is a surprise, he says, because “in the past those kinds of big institutions have tended not to be so nimble.” Rather, he says, they have tended not to react “quickly and cleverly to rapidly changing technological circumstances.”