Will TV Learn From Woolworth's?

Attendees at New Media Knowledge’s ‘What Happens to TV?’ debate last night were treated to some fantastic insights into the future of television. Although the likes of social network Bebo, news site Current TV and interactive Internet TV firm Quick TV were on hand to debate where TV is headed, there remained the conspicuous absence of any television channels. None apparently wanted to take part and who can blame them? I think it could have turned into a turkey shoot.

If you’ve ever read Seth Godin’s excellent Meatball Sundae then you’d know all about how difficult it is for ‘old’ companies to operate in the ‘new’ market. Godin argues that adding a web layer to an existing legacy set-up may not be enough to save the ‘old’ companies.

Looking at all the fantastic developments in TV in the post combined with the plummeting ad revenues that TV channels are suffering I can see a ‘Woolworths situation’ looming. In a nutshell, a huge and popular high street brand folded due to its inability to operate in the ‘new’ market, yet Web-savvy business visionaries managed to buy rights to that popular brand and do what Woolworths should have done 10 or 12 years ago anyway – and launch a user-friendly e-commerce site.

Sports channel Setanta just wound up in the UK and rumours abound about ITV’s prospects. I can see an established TV brand collapsing and being resurrected by ‘new’ marketing people. Likewise a colleague touted last night that the Independent – a big media brand that some argue has lost its way – could be bought by a new media agency and capitalise on the strength of its brand to take it in an entirely new direction.

We are really witnessing the shaking of the sieve here. It’ll be fascinating to see where we are this time next year.

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