If forced to pluck a single theme from my talk to a group of local television station executives this week at Disney World it would be this one: "TV is just another application." Today's consumer still loves TV, make no mistake. But technology provides more and more choice -- both types of content (games, messaging, non-TV video, and so much more) and the way it is delivered (phones, tablets, laptops, IP-TVs, et. al.).
The trend is clear -- TV viewing as we know it will evolve dramatically in the coming years into some new form. Think about the evolution of radio, from the central focus in the living room to a driving companion under the onslaught of TV.
Over time, the explosion of choice and technologies will necessarily erode incumbant providers -- disruption in publishing, music, movies, and network TV. But what about the local TV broadcaster, lynchpin of the American system of distribution? If I can get the shows I like over the internet, and I can, why do I need my local channel?
Local broadcasters still have immense brand power in the marketplace, derived not only from habit but because they deliver news, weather, traffic and often live programming like sports which are unavailable from other sources (for now). These and other strengths must be leveraged in the new digital marketplace, which is crowded by all sorts of competition, fueled again by the Internet. Hyper-local websites, blogs, networks and "deal" sites are going after advertisers and viewers.
Local stations must think like digital natives and bring their brand and content to audiences where they live, especially younger consumers who may simply not have developed the same TV viewing habits as their parents. Some of my suggestions and analysis are contained in this presentation, including an endearing photo of me as a young media activist (aged 12), my first angry letter to a TV station.