Remember when the television reigned supreme?
It was an ancient time when magnificent four-legged wood and vacuum tube creatures dominated the home. TV’s were uncompromising creatures demanding rapt attention and loyalty from their human keepers. Like alpha-dogs or high status kids, their needs and schedules came first as we assembled nightly to accept the warm primetime gifts they bestowed on us.
Today, the once mighty television stands on shaky legs. Under assault by mutating forms of digital life, ruthless pirates, ‘grow your own’ content and growing indifference from generation Y, ‘traditional’ television is on the ropes.
So, how does a great medium fight back? How does TV battle evolutionary and revolutionary forces and avoid the fate of the parlour piano, Victrola and the VHS player?
Here are eight ideas for how TV can fight to keep its rightful place at the top of the food chain.
1. Embrace The Dinosaur Image
At 6-feet wide and with no touchscreen, interactivity or mobility, TV is seen as a dinosaur by some. Why not embrace that idea and create a dinosaur-based theme park celebrating Television? Kids love dinosaurs so they’ll love ‘Channel-saurus” – a giant remote-control shaped creature that teaches children to love all channels. Yes kids, TV is a dinosaur…isn’t that cool!
2. Stamp out Screen Promiscuity
The TV was once so desirable that families fought each other for its exclusive attention. Today, tablets and smartphones mean young people can indiscriminately watch shows anywhere, anytime. Well, it’s high time for this “screen promiscuity” to end. A positive example must be set. Why not encourage people to publicly pledge their loyalty and be allowed to marry their TV sets? Do you believe in fidelity? Hell yes! High fidelity!
3. Tidy Up the Clutter
There are too many channels in the world, and it’s getting harder to choose. As people get overwhelmed with choice, some just give up. So why not allow people to ‘blend their own’ channels? Take nine regular channels and turn them into one kick-ass super-premium channel. Imagine the satisfaction of news or sports junkies with a permanent 9 way split of content. “Get the catheter out honey… I’m not missing anything this weekend!”
4. Beat the internet
Because the internet is available at all hours of the day, television, with its primetime focus, can feel archaic. Let’s change that. How about an ad campaign convincing people to leave their TVs on… permanently! Imagine the rise in ad revenues generated by a world full of people watching TV 24 hours a day! The slogan: “Tune in, turn on and leave it on”.
5. Break the Commercial
Short attention spans are becoming a way of life, so how does TV hold an audience with its long commercial breaks? Simple. 3-second commercials. By the time you reach for the remote, they’re over. Sit down people… you’re not going anywhere… ever!
6. Win the Video Game
Games, gamers, gamification – I get it, people want to play with their screens. So maybe it’s time for TV to gamify? But how to accomplish this without expensive retooling? I suggest low-tech hybrid games such as: “Remote Control Hide and Seek”, “Media Conglomerate Monopoly” and “Pin the Tail on the Donkey – Donald Trump Edition”.
7. Evil against Good
With creative control of Hollywood now solidly in the hands of corporate risk managers, movies are all about superheroes, good guys and feeling happy. This has created great opportunities for television as it successfully embraces the dark side, glorifying drug dealers, outlaw bikers and zombies. But how does TV keep ahead in this race for darkness? How about an output deal with the devil for exclusive rights to all forms of evil? I’m sure Beelzebub (and his CAA agent) will be thrilled to finally find a permanent home.
8. Cut out Cord Cutters
How to stem the flow of cable TV cord-cutters? Easy. Just replace coaxial cable with high-density carbon nanofibre that is, essentially, un-severable. I can hear the technician now: “I could cut your cable but it’s gonna be expensive. Might be cheaper to just keep it connected.” Smart decision!
Allan Novak is an award-winning TV series and format creator, whose company AllScreen Entertainment creates and produces shows across platforms, genres and borders. You can find him on LinkedIn here, and follow him on Twitter here.