The road to the Final Four and the digital future

CBS' marketing mascot (right) talks media with a Butler fan.

The Final Four on CBS is an event I look forward to every year. The excitement, the traditions, the rivalries...the ratings! One of the many benefits of working here is getting to be a part of events like March Madness, meeting interesting people, talking about sports, and, of course, technology.

During our stay in the Hoosier state, a group of CBS executives accompanied me for an illuminating visit to the Ball State University Center for Media Design in Muncie, Indiana. It was our second time visiting the Center, and once again our friend Mike Bloxham, director of insight and research, put together an incredible program for us. We visited the digital labs where students were busy developing mobile apps, interactive television applications, and augmented reality effects.

We listened, learned, and shared insights and ideas about current media trends, the latest insights on consumer behavior, and the nuts and bolts of the digital home. Along the way, we ducked into one of the site's many brainstorming rooms for a round table discussion. The walls were covered in whiteboard, and there were sticky notes galore and highlighters in every color. My eye was immediately drawn to a large sheet of paper hanging in the front of the room. It said: "How do you find stuff? How would you LIKE to find stuff?"

That's exactly what our focus is at CBS Marketing: deciphering how people find entertainment choices. It was gratifying to see that the bright minds on campus are hard at work on one of the biggest challenges to the future of television: helping consumers search, navigate, and discover the shows they want amid the rapidly expanding din of digital video. Working closely with institutions like the Center for Media Design to share knowledge and collaborate on solutions, we are making TV even more enjoyable for its legions of fans.

The students and researchers at the center were hard at work when we visited. George Schweitzer

And there are a lot of them: more than 48 million people tuned in to CBS to watch all or part of Duke's epic win over Butler in the 2010 NCAA Men's Basketball National Championship, an increase of 31 percent over last year. That's the result of a terrific match-up, a thrilling game, and America's enduring love for the shared experience of television.

About the author

    George Schweitzer's position as chief marketing officer at CBS gives him a unique opportunity not only to observe but also to help shape the ways technology is altering the television industry. A communications major at Boston University who joined CBS after graduation some 30 years ago, George is also an unabashed technology geek who specializes in the latest home automation and entertainment gear.

     

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