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One Big Question: Will virtual reality kill off TV the way music streaming did CDs?

One Big Question: Will virtual...
Once the future of recorded music, CDs are headed the way of the dodo
Once the future of recorded music, CDs are headed the way of the dodo
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Once the future of recorded music, CDs are headed the way of the dodo
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Once the future of recorded music, CDs are headed the way of the dodo

Next Thursday, "The New Normal" conference will be taking place in London. Attendees will be looking at the place of TV in a world where more and more people are getting their visual entertainment online and through streaming devices. One of the topics to be discussed is also the question we asked conference host Frank Radice as part of our regular One Big Question series:

Will virtual reality ever kill off TV the way MP3 players and music streaming did CDs?

In my experience, the one constant in our industry is "nothing is constant". I've seen TV go from black and white to color; from film to tape; from tape to DVDs; from DVDs to digital files. I've lived with vinyl, 8-tracks, then cassettes and CDs. Now it's all about Spotify and Soundcloud and apps that let you stream or download audio, and YouTube and Vimeo that lets you do the same with video. Now with augmented reality (AR) experiences like Pokémon Go and virtual reality (VR) experiences, we are once again going through a major shift in the force.

The one certainty is that the internet will completely replace TV. The idea of television is now as old-school as radio. In fact, TV is just radio but with moving images in two-dimensional space, yet we experience our surroundings with all our senses, in three-dimensional space. That is why VR is the flavor of the decade, but only once we are able to incorporate other senses, such as smell and touch, will we have the next generation of immersive experience.

So it won't actually be VR that tops the leader-board. It is AR that will become the most useful tool to access what we now call the web (and ultimately TV), and it will be AR that paves the way forward. While VR offers an immersive experience, you are physically confined by the four walls in your home, with AR, you have virtual experiences in real-life situations so the world is your playground.

As for VR, that is what will replace what we know now as the operating system. So no longer will you need a desktop or mobile screen to access an app, you'll have voice-activated AI that will be directed through VR, providing you with a more elegant method of navigation.

But all these things will be interconnected and the one thing that ties them together is the content, the holy grail of which is video and audio. Marshall McLuhan said it more than 40 years ago: "the medium is the message" – the message is dependent on the delivery system, which we will come to see in the form of notifications. Content is still king, but the method of consumption, and distribution will be what changes (until something better comes along). That is "The New Normal."

8 comments
8 comments
Brian M
The medium is certainly not the message! The medium enhances the enjoyment or even the usefulness of the message, but its not the message. Marketing hype?
Although I, and probably everyone else would prefer TV programs in HD there is no problem in watching a film in standard definition or even on a mobile phone. Our brains simply adapt to the new medium and follow the story.
The big downside (which is also its up side!) with VR is that its all embracing, so its not something you can have on in the background as with TV or even radio.
Gil Paul
I started with Cardboard, then gear vr, and now, after 90 days with my vive, I love it. I certainly believe in the future of VR/AR. Virtual and Augmented Reality will fuse and degrees of opacity, immersion, and isolation will be variable. As for TV, it will continue to adapt. We will always consume content. We still listen to the radio, even if not gathered around to hear stories in the living room. This will change when fully autonomous cars are ubiquitous and radio is likely to lose a huge piece of its audience to video and VR but there will always be a place for the content, even if the means of delivery changes.
Bob Stuart
I think that VR is self-limiting. It is funnier to watch someone watching a comedy behind a mask than to watch the comedy itself.
DennisDepp
I'm not sure we are comparing similar things. Streaming, CD, and records are all means of delivering recorded music. It is interesting to see records making a bit of a comeback, but I think that will be short lived. VR is not a new way of distributing TV content. Instead it is a new medium for delivering content.
Augure
You clearly haven't got a clue what VR is if you're making this comparison. CD and MP3 are the SAME thing. Like cassettes or Vinyls were. And Streaming is indeed another paradigm of format.
VR is not replacing "TV" but replacing screen which have been around for a century, the same way AI will replace "computers" or cars replaces horses.
GizEngineer
CD and MP3 are NOT the same. CD audio quality is better, if you have young enough ears! With CDs, and vinyl you actually hold a physical object, getting the artwork and liner notes.
ErstO
Wait? What? CD’s are dead? I missed that memo, darn it, first they take away my vinyl LP’s, then they say my 8 track is no good (i do agree), then they say my cassettes are history, and now I have to dump my CD’s? Do you know how many times I have bought “Dark Side of the Moon”? NO! I’M DONE, I’m keeping my CD’s whats next 24 track digital files that lets us remix each track ..... mmmm, that may not be a bad idea. Never mind, I’ll just listen to Pink Floyd while I figure out what to do with my wall of CD’s
FnbDefiance
People have constantly been doing the upgrade not just for quality reasons, but out of laziness. Why would I want to constantly change from one music CD to another when I can have all 100 of my CD's on a stick and not have to change them at all. The same thing goes with TV and Movies. Sure I've been upgrading like almost everyone else for the sake of image quality, but at the end of a work day I want to come home and veg out in front of the TV (be it shows or movies), I don't want to put my brain back to work again through constantly more interaction!