I had the pleasure of being invited to participate in the Intel Developer Forum last week in San Francisco.
Eric Kim runs Intel's Digital Home Group. He is the genius who comes up with the technology to enable consumer electronics companies to develop for the connected home, including the whole world of digital entertainment like television, DVDs, DVRs, music players, set-top boxes, and other digital devices. What he and his team of developers, engineers, researchers, and others do is incredibly important to us at CBS, since we study consumers' technology experiences and try to learn as much as we can about how they make their viewing choices.
As part of Eric's hour-long presentation to the more than 4,000 attendees assembled in the Moscone Center, I did a few minutes on how content interfaces with this technology. After all, these terrific platforms have to have content or they are the equivalent of "merely wires and lights in a box," as Edward R. Murrow said many years ago.
Here's a digest of my talk. You can also watch it here.
My job at CBS is to get people to watch. It gets more exciting and more challenging all the time. That's thanks to Eric and our friends at Intel and to all of you, too, because technology has given us more platforms for our content.
And technology will be integral to helping us get around the age-old philosophical question: If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is there to hear it, was there a noise?
Because in the world of content, if a great show goes on a platform but nobody's there to see it because nobody can find it, then we've got problems. And if we have problems, the tech world has problems. So, in simple equations, my world works like this:
R + = : )
(Where R equals TV ratings.) Ratings up means people are happy. More people watching means consumers, advertisers, and everyone else who participates in the entertainment industry is happy. Of course, there is the inverse:
R - = :(
Ratings down means people are sad.
So this is the formula we want:
R + = : ) + $ + Food/Job
Ratings growth equals happiness, which equals money for you and me to invest in development, which leads to food and jobs for us and our kids, and money with which we can buy a ton of cool new gadgets to watch more video!
There's a whole lot riding on helping people discover and navigate to our shows.
It's particularly important this week. This is premiere week, when the TV networks will introduce more than 40 new shows. That's a lot of new stories and characters to dive into. But, for the viewer, the very act of finding the new shows has become a journey of epic proportions.
Navigation is the No. 1 viewer challenge for television marketers. How do people find the shows they want to watch? And how do they discover new ones?
It used to be simple. You looked up the listing information in the TV Guide or the newspaper
Then you watched your program at the designated time.
But thanks to the genius of people like you, consumers today have a seemingly infinite set of options.
People can watch virtually anything, anywhere, on any device they want and at any time they want.
The experience has evolved from watching television in a linear world, to managing video--a world where the consumer is always in control. In theory, it sounds great. But in reality, people are totally overwhelmed by the sheer range of choice. This brings to mind another formula:
MC2 = MC2
More content and more choice equals more chaos and more confusion. Consumers find themselves engaged in a game of high-tech hide-and-seek. The shows are out there, but we need to make it simpler and easier to find them.
That's why we like Intel's focus on connected television and its implications. It's a big part of our future, starting with the TV widget. The CBS Widget is soon to go live. It gives viewers easy access to our schedule, our shows, and all kinds of related information. It makes navigating easy. People love easy.
And we love what's coming up next with the Widget.
Tonight is the season premiere of The Mentalist. (I hope you are in your living rooms by then.) So, with the Widget, you can get everything you need to get up-to-speed for tonight. Want to watch the final episode of the last season? No problem.
Maybe you want to recommend the episode? Or see what your friends have recommended? That's simple.
The TV Widget is just one example of what's possible. It enhances the viewing experience. And it points the way to many more innovations.
Our job at CBS is to make the case that spending an hour, or two, or three with our programming is the best, most fulfilling entertainment choice out there. Your job is to make the TV user experience everything people want it to be, and more. When we both do our jobs well and that love match happens, people get connected with the content they desire, so everybody's happy. And we can all spread the TV love!