THE BLOG
18/11/2013 09:04 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

What is the future of TV?

I guess the answer is don't give up on the large television companies just yet. Yes, there will be huge pressure from the new guard of Netflix, Google, Vice and Amazon all wanting a slice of the content market. But right now the number one light entertainment shows on both sides of the continent are still Pop Idol and the X Factor

Many will have you believe that the future of TV is an luminous floating screen activated by voice command, better still our brain signals will activate channels serving our every whim. It reminds me of Clint Eastwood in the 1982 movie Firefox or better still Tom Cruise, strutting his stuff in Minority Report, but like those films the ideas are already dated.

What's far more interesting is not this, 'Tomorrow's World' version of the future but what's actually happening right now. The green shoots of the window into tomorrow.

I hate to agree with James Murdoch, yes I will burn in hell, but besides his recent blistering attack on the BBC and others, he was right when he said we have "analogue attitudes in a digital age". There is no longer a TV market or the notion of, 'the future of television'.

We are living in a world where all forms of media and communication are all interconnected.Internet, television, publishing, newspapers. Indeed we are living in an all media market. If you're not in it you may as well pack up your cyber bags.

Vice magazine CEO Shane Smith hit the nail on the head when he called Vice, the Time Warner of the street. "We are the changing of the guard. We have magazines and records and books and online video and TV shows and movies that are more for Gen Y than for baby boomers".

I'd like to think that these new cool kids on the block will offer greater diversity, but I fear the new guard is just as blinkered and commercialized as the old regime.

Vice itself sold 5% of its share to Rupert Murdoch earlier this year, valuing Vice at close to $1.4bn. For the humble consumer it seems like the idea of a new media frontier is just Wall Street suits dressed in hipster clothing.

However what Vice and others like action adventure sports channel, Epic TV are doing, is to rip up the old formatted television guide to film making.

Driven by an Internet model, they make quick, inexpensive films without the huff and puff that currently exists in the TV market. They are rough and ready and don't come with all the pomp and nonsense that sounds the current formats that exist on mainstream TV. The commissioner is the audience, it's that simple.

To this end I spent some time in Freetown, Sierra Leone teaching film studies for a charity called, 'Way Out'. I found that almost all my class had never really watched TV because they had never owned one. But they were all on Facebook and used YouTube as their 'station' of choice. What was refreshing was that they had no television base from which to form a platform or understanding. There was no set of rules to break, no need to add fake jeopardy, no theme tune, no pre-title tease or signposting; all the buzzwords of the western media model. Their work was as pure as filming gets. True documentary making without the guidebook and the hidden channel agenda.

So will the content of what we watch now look any different in the future? I guess the answer is don't give up on the large television companies just yet. Yes, there will be huge pressure from the new guard of Netflix, Google, Vice and Amazon all wanting a slice of the content market. But right now the number one light entertainment shows on both sides of the continent are still Pop Idol and the X Factor. Both 'classic' time family entertainment. I use the word classic lightly....

Also the television old guard are embracing the likes of Twitter to work in unison with new medias and technology to help general views and publicity and keep pace with an every changing market.

On TOWIE, The Only Way Is Essex, the producers monitor the twitter feeds as the show is aired and can move and shape the content the following day. The show works around the clock shooting and editing. As a result, it can react in a way other such soap dramas can't. It's hammering other shows aimed at the same market because it can move and react in a world where immediacy is everything.

The only problem with this statistic is that viewers are reacting with the online community instead of the family sat around the TV with a pizza, how long will it be before the traditional Saturday night teatime will be a thing of the past? We used to walk to school talking about last night's Cagney and Lacey or the Dukes of Hazzard ...but why bother when you've already, talked, digested and cogitated with half the world as it happened.

If the television world can keep reinventing itself and embrace the wider media as a whole then it has a chance to exist in the future content game, but like Clint Eastwood, it looks old, tired and weary, but don't expect them to give up without a gun fight.