Today, PHD Sweden’s TV planner Peder Högberg shares his reflections on the situation on the TV market. Enjoy.
I have this extremely vivid memory from back when I was 17, when the evening I had been bitterly looking forward to for nine years was upon me and the final episode of The X Files was airing. On that evening I had to excuse myself from the dinner table and literally run to the living room ten minutes to nine to make sure that the VCR was working properly and that our old Philips TV had not decided to retire prematurely. This was such a life-defining moment, it would never come again, and if I missed this airing, who knew if I would be able to catch it? If ever? Note that the recording to VHS was purely a safety measure.
I return to this memory from time to time in my work. No one was talking about linear television in 2002, but rather of just straight-up, good old TV. Missed the last episode of The X Files when it aired on TV?! Tough luck, amigo. Even if you used the same standard computer the CIA or Dan Brown used, and at least in theory could download files quickly, you would still have had to wait for the episode to be released on DVD, then ripped onto some hard drive somewhere and then put up for download. We were talking months!
Today, the term “web-exclusive” has gone from being over-used to being used less and less. It used to be a way for TV stations to attract traffic to their web platforms, to produce content that could not be seen on their linear channels, but now it seems it has become such a common occurrence there is no need to call it anything else than simply… content. In the same sense I cannot remember ever hearing of “linear” television before quite recently. “Linear” has nothing to do with the content, just the technology behind its broadcast – TV for people who does not know what to watch – as a counterpart to “online” television.
This got me thinking of a way to revolutionize straight-up, good old TV: “linear-exclusive” programming. I would have to leave it to someone else to figure out the technology to make it work, but I imagine programs and shows that are unstreamable, unpausable, undownloadable and essentially unmissable when they air. One in ten Swedes sat down on that evening in 2002 to watch an American TV show because they all knew that this was their one chance to watch it. Imagine going back to the olden days of 2002, when your favorite show was a matter of life and death and how you treasured each airing. Any show that dared to try this is sure to be sitting on a formidable GRP bomb. Maybe.