What is the “Future of TV”?


During Apple’s conference this past Wednesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “We believe the future of TV is apps.” They showed this belief by rolling out a new version of Apple TV, the improvements for which you can check out in my previous news article on the subject.

I’ve already said my piece on Apple TV, so I’m not going to reiterate myself, but Cook does bring up an interesting topic. The nature of television is changing. Less and less people are sitting around watching television programs the way they used to and channel surfing has become an outdated joke.

What IS the future of TV?

It’s NOT apps.

In my opinion, this sentiment is ridiculous. Apple has started practically building their entire company around their App Store and are just trying to push it further. I understand the smartphone and app craze has brought them and many new companies massive wealth, and it’ll continue to do so, but it’s not the future of television for a few major reasons.

1. The beauty of apps is their mobility.

People love apps because they’re useful little tools and games they can carry around in their pockets. Most apps aren’t designed or meant to be something you sit around and focus on for hours on end. They’re something to pass the time with while you’re sitting around in a waiting room or stuck in traffic, tools that turn your smartphone into a flashy Swiss army knife of entertainment.

2. Apps aren’t made for television use.

Sure, most of them will work fine with a television because all a television really is nowadays is a big computer monitor, but apps are designed with mobility and smartphone technology in mind. They’re made for small touchscreens, not for the 32 or 60-inch LCD TV hanging on your wall.

3. TVs already have gaming consoles.

The vast majority of apps, especially the most profitable ones, are video games. Saying “the future of TV is apps” is almost equivalent to saying “the future of TV is video games”. There are already three gaming juggernauts with their claws deeply embedded in television use.

Granted, mobile gaming is a billion dollar industry, but the keyword here is ‘mobile’. Candy Crush can say whatever it wants, its sales are not going to hold up to the next installment of Call of Duty or Halo and neither are any other mobile games you try to build this supposed future from.

If not apps, then what?

Independent original content providers.

People still want to watch TV. They still want quality shows, with good stories, relatable characters and talented actors that they can follow week-to-week. That’s why streaming services like Netflix started looking towards creating content of their own, essentially kicking out the network middleman.

In case you haven’t noticed, middlemen are being cut out of almost every entertainment industry. The internet provides direct access between entertainment creators and their fan base. Networks, labels, publishers and all the people who used to take cuts from artists are slowly being pushed to the side as entertainment of all forms is being provided directly from artists to fans – which pays talented artists a lot more money than ever before.

When House of Cards became nominated for an Emmy – multiple Emmys in fact, some of which it also won – it marked the end of an era. It told content creators that it is possible to exist solely online.

For decades people have been upset at having to pay for hundreds of channels when they only want a handful or two. I think the future of TV is being able to select that handful from a plethora of smaller independent internet-based networks and content creators.

Is it going to happen next year? No.

Is it going to happen in the next ten years? Probably not, but we’re already moving towards that reality. And that’s more exciting to me as a fan of television than being able to play Angry Birds on my TV.