What is television?
That sounds like a silly question, but seriously, what is it? Is it an HD monitor that sits in your living room, or is it the complex set of business processes that major cable and telecom companies employ to bring content to that monitor? Because while the first may still have a respectable life span, the second is on death's door in a way that will make the decline of the metro-daily newspaper seem silly.
The only thing that matters to the consumer is the content -- not how that content gets where it needs to go. The laws of efficiency will make certain that just like music first and now publishing, the days of the big gatekeepers are over. YouTube, to a degree, has already proven that the ground is fertile. And as more content providers find a direct path to the consumer, the old-guard "television" infrastructure will crumble. And it will crumble quickly.
The House of Cards series on Netflix made it clear that even a major production can find its way to consumers without the burden of dealing with the business model of the major cable companies. Kevin Spacey, the main character and one of the producers of House of Cards said that he learned pretty quickly the lessons that the music industry didn't heed a decade ago. "Give people what they want, when they want it, in the form they want it in, at a reasonable price and they'll more likely pay for it rather than steal it," Spacey recently said at a media conference.
He's right. And he isn't brilliant. It's obvious. At least it should be.
The next steps will be to make sure the infrastructure of the future (really capable broadband) is where it needs to be as more an more content finds better and more efficient paths to consumers.
I've felt that the last enterprise of the traditional television business would be live sports. To a great degree, that's all I -- and many, many like me -- watch on traditional television. But it looks as though that enterprise will begin to crumble soon, too.
That monitor on your living room wall may look pretty much the same for the next five to ten years, but where the content comes from and how it gets to you is going to change quite rapidly and quite profoundly.