Shedding Skin: Television's Darkest Hour


Parts of being human are the common bonds that bring us together.  People coming together to share a bus ride to work, or the joy a family unit feels sitting around the television, are common experiences that bond.   Our industry is no different in the bonds that we all share when thinking about the passions that drive us and remind us why we belong in television. 

Even with these bonds how does our industry, built on ratings competition, find common ground to move forward with a unified strategy focused on recovery?  Collectively from all corners of the industry there is a sense of trepidation about the future. Cost cutting is now the corner where we all find safe haven.  Will this attitude grow the industry?  Or will the leaky bucket of the Internet take what little high ground we have left? 

There was a time when I did not know what the Internet was. There was a time when I did not know what a mobile phone was (except for the version in Ironside’s town car). Why do many of us think the Internet is the end of us?  Much like the beginning of the Internet and mobile, digital television is still the unfamiliar road ahead.

We need to think outside the box for not just new digital revenue, but rather be brave enough to invent new revenue generating technologies.  Sounds easy?  It is not. Going forward on our comfortable trail, worn from decades of analog delivery, is not the answer.  It is our turn to clear a new trail.  Installing the digital transmitting equipment was just the compass and the map.    

Our industry can be a new communications medium — a hybrid of the Internet and television — thus reversing our slide into the abyss.  Our digital signal has characteristics that will enable us to thrive once we shed the analog skin that forms our current financial statements. Many of the services we will use to build our digital cash flow still needs to be built.  How quick the revenue digital transition is realized is about allocating the resources to bring the spectrum alive in a way that captivates and holds audience. It cannot be an insurance policy.  It should be the only policy.

Internet prospectors are looking longingly at the premium, copyright protected, content of television and are already dividing up the bounty.  Consumers do not want that to happen as they have already voted their plasma dollars that we will overcome.  This is not our darkest hour.  This is our digital hour.

Michael Kokernak is the CEO and President of Across Platforms, Inc. Across Platforms, Inc. is a multiscreen technologies consulting firm. Kokernak writes about the future of interactive television.  Michael is also the founder, and past CEO, of Backchannelmedia. He can be reached at [email protected]