Thursday, May 20, 2010

Even With Google TV: Why Broadcast Television Will Never Die

It's been a long week and finally, Friday evening has arrived. Today, your boss yelled at you, you lost your wallet, and then, had to sit through two hours on the freeway during five o'clock rush hour. Basically, you just want to plop yourself onto the couch and relax, with a beer in one hand, and a burger in the other. Naturally, the first thing you do when you get home is to make a beeline for your beloved remote.
This a routine that pretty much any American can attest to going through on a frequent basis. For many of us, this is one of the main parts of life. If you ask me, it'll be pretty hard to change that.
However, Google has other plans, unveiling today, its newest innovation: Google TV. It is touted as something that will combine the best of both worlds, the internet and television. Its developers have promised that users will be able to utilize Google's elaborate search system to find their favorite online video content, then stream that on their televisions. Other nice bonuses include the ability to add favorites/bookmarks and surf the web.
Now, I'll admit, that does sound a lot better than Apple's faltering mega-creation, Apple TV. And of course, it is quite well-known that Google rarely fails to satisfy its demanding customers.
However, while I strongly believe that the internet will be the basis of everything in the very near future, I cannot see good ol' broadcast television ever fading completely from the picture.
I am well-aware that Google's wonderful search system can easily meet the highest of expectations. Still, when even after ten Venti Lattes, you're still exhausted and utterly brain-dead, the last thing you want to do is the "tedious" work of typing in a search query to find something to watch. Pressing the up arrow to surf channels is just that much easier. Frankly, it's a commonly known fact that us Westerners absolutely despise spending extra effort when there is any slightly easier alternative.
Also, there isn't a doubt that surfing channels is way more amusing. Many people adore the enthralling randomness of just trying to come across something watchable. It would be extremely difficult to replicate this feeling of randomness with Google TV, because even with some sort of "random content" feature, the scope of the web is so humongous that the likelihood of bumping into a good show would be next to zero.
And that is one of the tough-to-avoid downsides of Internet content. Humans are a race that lives for every bit of small satisfaction that they can get. And unearthing a good show out of your hundreds of channels is one of the most satisfying feelings in the world.
As an illustration, think about radio. Sure, music has higher sound quality, more customizability, and no ads on your iPod, but it's so much more thrilling hearing your favorite song on the radio, than it is choosing it on your iPod. Moreover, radio has a real sense of personality that isn't just whatever you want it to be; it actually has some life, some flare. Thus, I believe that within the decade, TV will be where radio is now. People will still enjoy it, but there will be many alternatives getting more and more attractive.
Still, even when it reaches the radio phase, TV might just be one thing that is indeed, "too big to fail".
But ponder this: What if marketing takes a turn and further de-emphasizes TV advertising? Then, TV stations simply won't be able to fend off bankruptcy, no matter how many people watch their shows.
I'll leave you with that thought.

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