What is television going to look like in the future?

Television is one of the most popular forms of entertainment and is something which is always growing and developing. This decade has seen a lot of advancement for the medium and has opened up the potential of what TV can do. Television shows have become very sophisticated and there have been huge strides in how TV is broadcast to us. New technology is set to redefine it even more and in the future it is likely to change further.

There are various ways in which television is likely to develop. We might be looking at new sources of television production, new devices to watch TV shows on, new forms of content, and a permanently progressing industry which improves at a fast rate.

Just as a basic principle, how are we going to watch TV in the future? For a long time the only way to watch TV was on a TV set, but recently this has changed. We typically watch TV on state of the art widescreen televisions, but also on a myriad of other devices. We may watch it on laptops, on tablets, on apps, and on phone screens. We are able to watch TV pretty much anywhere we can get a connection.

I would speculate that in the future TV might be transmitted without the need for a set at all but rather through a projector. The kind of technology used in the cinema could be introduced for home use. The industry currently has something called e-shift technology which is essentially a projector which plays and transmits images. It is a kind of a scanner in the form of light against a screen like in a movie theatre.

The e-shift technology allows a greater quality of image and makes the most of the highest ranges available, working at the limits of high definition. This is currently very expensive but the potential is there, particularly as the industry is always looking for a better quality of visuals. It would eliminate the need for a TV set– you would simply need a wall to project the image onto.

Who is going to produce content? At the moment there are many organizations and channels making TV. We receive TV from the traditional networks, from cable channels, and from streaming services like Netflix. This is a fragmentation of sorts. It has had an effect on the market and points to where this is likely to go in the years to come.

Right now, a person has to subscribe to several different providers to see all the hottest shows. You have to subscribe to Netflix, Amazon and HBO if you want to see all the best TV. It is messy and for a lot of people it is too dear to pay for all these services. Bearing that in mind, the market is likely to evolve in a certain way through the competition aspect.

What seems to be likely is that in the future a few channels are going to dominate and they shall achieve a monopoly in the world of TV. For a while, every business was trying to get into TV production but now that is falling away as outfits like A+E have decided to stop producing scripted dramas. The most competitive channels are the ones which are likely to endure. Netflix, HBO, and Amazon are definitely the biggest companies at the moment and this is likely to continue. That said, outfits like Hulu are moving into the drama sector and are having some success also.

Recently there has been a new development as Facebook have announced they have plans to go into television. Facebook want to make TV shows to feature on their own platform and they are going to develop their own content service. The logic behind this is that it allows them to include more advertising which can be shown around the programs, as advertising is a huge source of profit for Facebook.

This shows how important TV is in modern net culture. Facebook are constantly looking to enhance their service and see television as something which could elevate it. Facebook and Amazon are the most aggressive businesses when it comes to trying to dominate the market. They are constantly going into new areas and look to incorporate as much as possible into their services. Television is clearly a fertile territory for them to spread into.

The content which Facebook are looking to make is short in length. They want to make half-hour long scripted shows and some shorter shows of several minutes. These shows shall be exclusive to them. This is no doubt calculated to suit the attention span of today’s audiences. It reflects how restless the average internet user is and how long a show actually holds their attention. Facebook seem to see this as the most suitable form of content for them.

Picture quality is also something which is going to advance. There are new resolutions which are set to improve the quality of TV. Currently the best image we receive is in high definition or HD. This should eventually be replaced by better levels such as 4K or HDR. 4K is the next step from HD. If HD is 720 or 1080, then the new 4K is 4000 pixels, which is a huge leap forwards. It gives a vastly stronger image.

Amazon and Netflix have made steps to incorporate this format. They are already streaming select shows in 4K or even making shows in this resolution. TV channels are starting to offer the format to customers, and services like YouTube have made some preparations for that size.

The alternative to 4K is a different format, HDR. HDR is perhaps the format which is more likely to take off. This has a refined and richer image, rather than more pixels which is what 4K has. The format works on enhancing color and light, on making the most out of the visuals which are there.  It has a very fine resolution and produces vivid images which are bolder than in other formats.

The TV show itself is something which has come on a huge amount. Since the 1990s television has reached new heights as a form. This is set to continue. What are TV shows going to look like, in the future? What form shall they have? Is TV even going to be a thing? Well, we watch stories on screens and there is always going to be a form of that.

Recently the line between TV and film has been blurred. Film stars now act in TV shows, while films are franchises with shared universes which function like a TV series. The Marvel films are like a very high quality TV show, with overlapping storylines and recurring characters. When TV shows are like films and films are like TV, what technically is this content anymore?

In general entertainment has become more sophisticated and artistic. The TV shows on American cable are like epic cinema. A show like True Detective is like a 8-hour film, more reminiscent of Coppola than TV. David Lynch has said that he shot the new series of Twin Peaks as a 18-hour movie, even though it is broadcast as a season of TV. The work on cable is so good it doesn’t feel like TV, it is a new form, something better and more lavish.

All in all, the modern era is a time of radical growth for television. Viewers can watch the best TV that there has ever been and can watch it wherever they like. TV is more accessible than ever and is presented in very high quality. The industry is evolving quickly and with further advances it should continue to thrive.

Image is Sony 4K Ultra HD TV event. Author – John Karakatsanis at Flickr

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