Wednesday, August 10, 2005


At the AlwaysOn Summit, George Gilder brought up his old prophecy that TV would soon die out... a slow death of course.

So Mark Cuban has taken the task of beating down Gilder's viewpoint and responded to Paul Kagan's article in CableWORLD, "TV Is Dead—Long Live TV" (I wanted to introduce myself to Kagan at the AO Summit, but didn't get a chance to. I enjoyed his video-on-demand conferences when I attended in the late '90s). Cuban frames it in a good argument and informative post titled:

Rules of Success - The Path of Least Resistance

I just read a note in CableWorld by Paul Kagan referring to George Gilders “vision” that in the future TV will die, regardless of delivery medium simply because people will watch only what they want to watch.

How wrong he is. Why he is wrong is a lesson in basic business.

It was Aaron Spelling I believe who said that “TV is the path of least resistance from complete boredom”. Which is another way of saying that its easier to watch TV, than to sit there and do nothing.

Which describes exactly how people make most of their choices in life. They take the easy way. They take the path of least resistance.
So when Gilder thinks we will only watch exactly what we want to watch, he is dead wrong because we don’t know what we want to watch as often, if not more often than we do know.

When we get to a point that there are thousands of on demand TV choices, we won’t approach TV programming guides like we do a search engine, looking for a specific target. That’s too much work. The smart on demand providers will present their programming guides more like or Both of which do a great job of “suggestive programming.”

We will get a personalized page with options that it thinks we might like based on our previous viewing decisions. Then different categories of shows, within each we will see best rated, most viewed and newest added, along with “play lists” suggested by branded guides who make recommendations. All of these simple options will make it easy for us to make a choice with some level of confidence. We won’t feel like we are missing something and we will know that if we don’t like the show, we can quickly go back to a point that makes it easy to find another selection.

Aaron Spelling was exactly right when he said that TV is the best alternative to boredom, future providers of on demand content will hopefully remember this when devising their user interfaces, and every business should remember it as well.

Everyone follows the path of least resistance.
(full post)

Cuban's follow up post is "Broadcast TV will never die."

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