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Generational Chasm Seperates TV Viewers

TVweek reports on IBM Business Consulting Services' view that the future will belong to those who take risks and implement innovative strategies for an On-Demand World.

Television has an inspiring past, ripe with innovation and popular culture influence. Since its coming of age mid-20th century, generations of TV viewers happily embraced their broadcast experience. For the industry, making a connection with consumers was a pretty straightforward, one-to-many experience -- until recently.

Today audiences are becoming increasingly fragmented, splicing their time among myriad media choices, channels and platforms. For the last few decades, consumers have migrated to more specialized, niche content via cable and multichannel offerings. Now, with the growing availability of on-demand, self-programming and search features, some users are moving beyond niche to individualized viewing. With increasing competition from convergence players in TV, telecommunications and the Internet, the industry is confronting unparalleled complexity, dynamic change and pressure to innovate.

IBM's analysis indicates that market evolution hinges on two key market drivers: openness of access channels and levels of consumer involvement with media. For the next five to seven years, there will be change on both fronts-but not uniformly. The industry instead will be stamped by consumer bimodality, coexistence of two types of users with disparate channel requirements.

While one consumer segment remains passive in the living room, the other will force radical change in business models in a search for anytime, anywhere content through multiple channels. The tech- and fashion-forward consumer segment will lead us to a world of platform-agnostic content, fluid mobility of media experiences, individualized pricing schemes and an end to the traditional concept of release windows. Behavioral differences will lead to a "generational chasm" between the passive mass audience ("Massive Passives") and leading-edge users (divided into two sub-groups: "Gadgetiers" and "Kool Kids").

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