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OPEN MIKE BY NIL SHAH: Broadcast Could Gain From Enhancing Tech

This week’s CES event in Las Vegas will highlight solutions coupling interactive with measurement technologies for broadcasters, who have much to gain by upgrading their game to a more digital-like experience.<br><br>

Las Vegas, Nevada, January 4, 2023 Heading into the dawn of a New Year, the inevitable array of year-end recaps of statistics and downturns, along with forecasts for 2023, has dominated news feeds of late. And the bottom line, according to Variety, is cord-cutting is growing — and, thanks to NFL Sunday Ticket’s impending move to YouTube TV, will likely accelerate in 2023 as the movement of viewing time from linear to streaming continues.

But even with this growth in streaming, the four most-viewed sources remain over-the-air broadcast networks. For instance, on Thanksgiving Day, 168 million Americans representing a little more than half of everyone alive in the U.S. watched at least part of NFL football games on three linear channels. Another 27 million awoke by 9 a.m. ET to see a parade that first took place nearly a century ago.

Live events still command attention, and more people still turn to traditional ways to access them when it’s available to them.

And when they’re not watching live events, millions still turn to broadcasters for entertainment, including a slew of diginets that operate as standalone affiliates and subchannels with better numbers and trajectories than an overwhelming majority of cable networks and streaming platforms. Much of the content they’re watching represents thousands of hours of library series from legacy studios, many decades old, that are finding new audiences through ubiquitous availability.

And yes, that content is often also available through FAST channels that are gaining adoption and advertiser acceptance, and which are increasingly being expected to drive revenue for companies challenged to monetize emerging SVOD services, with the likes of Warner Bros. Discovery, Hallmark and Sony acting more and more as “arms dealers” sharing their wealth beyond their walled gardens.

At the same time, our industry spends a lot of time acknowledging the benefits that streaming offers to everyone in the ecosystem — consumers, programmers and advertisers — such as targeted and interactive ads, shoppable experiences and recommendation engines.BRAND CONNECTIONS

So, let me get something straight: After writing off broadcast with countless obituaries and proclamations, the industry is now rushing to supplement their sexy new subscription models with their free, age-old, ad-supported model to bolster their sagging bottom lines?

Here’s a thought: What if, before the embalmer arrives, we first try to enhance the broadcast experience using the technology that is available to us right now?

The truth is that there are openly-specified, standards-based technologies available today that can put linear TV on par with digital platforms. These technologies offer all those tens of millions of Thanksgiving Day, upcoming playoff and Super Bowl viewers fantasy and sports betting, multiple camera angles, hometown audio and content recommendations, as well as VOD services, electronic program guides and dynamic ad insertion in traditional broadcast television environments.

This week’s CES will highlight solutions coupling interactive with measurement technologies. In addition to all those cool interactive features, they can provide broadcasters direct access to first-party, household-level audience data across devices and distribution environments, augmented with demographic and psychographic data for audience insights to inform programming, marketing and advertising sales decisions — all in service of generating new revenue from traditional broadcast television.

So before discarding the baby with the bathwater, let’s consider the latest advancements in technology to drive viewer engagement and revenue. After all, why should we pull the plug on the most powerful medium in existence when it just needs to use tech that is available today?

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