Uncommon Wisdom

Jun 11 2009   10:50PM GMT

The lessons of digital TV: Don’t follow this model

Tom Nolle Tom Nolle Profile: Tom Nolle

The digital television transition might be something that service providers, OTT players, and their vendors need to look to as an object lesson. When DTV was first proposed it was seen as more of an alternative approach to entertainment than as a way to get a bigger or slightly clearer picture. There were a lot of claims made about what the new TV would offer, from specialized versions of shows to interactivity and information.

But while digital TV got its start before the Internet became really popular, the Internet quickly achieved all of the goals set for DTV except the picture quality part. The reason for this was that the goals of DTV were never set realistically, that players dragged their feet, that technology suppliers made safe choices, and that the industry wasn’t seen as an ecosystem but as a bunch of independent businesses.

Multiplicity of content for TV? We can’t fund a single version of many shows on slipping ad dollars. Interactivity? Who wants users who pick what they like; we want to feed them what we want. Today, we’d contend that the online world and the core business of service providers are both where DTV was 20 years ago. Let’s hope they find a better outcome.

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