The Future of Television is Still Television

May 19, 2016

Written by Zhong Liu Mike Fan

Last night, after a long day of work, I came back home, looked at my beautiful 4K TV, looked for the remote control, looked at the brand new AppleTV, looked at the remote control, looked at the HDMI switch, looked at the remote control… took a shower and went to read a book.

Netflix is a great company because they built an amazing product people want, but when they say that “People love TV content, but they don’t love the linear TV experience”, I have to disagree. The assumption behind Netflix’ claim is that people only want to watch things they like and linear TV doesn’t give this flexibility.


But what if linear TV isn’t about watching great content? What if linear TV is about not choosing? Being lazy? Being passive? What if there are too many great content options and too much information for my brain to process, and I don’t want to spend that much time or resources for something as simple as video entertainment?

Just a few years ago, I was able to come back home, tired, switch the TV on and something instantly played.

Usually, it was so bad I didn’t even watch it but that was ok, I just needed some background noise and from time to time, when I heard something interesting, I’d take took a look.

Today, I don’t have cable or linear TV anymore.

What do I do? Well, if I want to watch something, but don’t know exactly what, not only do I have to do some research, I also have to go through the different catalogs and – depending on the service – search to see if certain movies are available or not (though the new AppleTV solved this problem quite beautifully).

The future of television is still television. And just like renting VHS co-existed with linear TV, services like Netflix won’t replace linear TV. They’ll still co-exist. For the better.

Because services like Netflix, instead of replacing linear TV, will actually compliment linear TV. Now we live in this weird world where every bit of information, every single event and every aspect of user data is collected: what if they created a user-specific, linear TV experience?

A linear TV that only broadcasts shows you love.

The music industry has been doing this, in a certain way, for years with what they call curated playlists. And Youtube is also doing so with their personalized playlist and autoplay function. With the recent advancements in AI and “big data,” we are even closer to the perfect TV experience: a TV that knows what, when and how we want to watch.

The future of television is still television. What internet TV will eventually replace isn’t linear TV – but the remote control.