Eleven predictions made in 1998 about the entertainment experience of 2006. Where I was right. Where I was wrong. Where the verdict is still out…

November 9, 2006

My job is pretty easy. I get paid to think about the future. Every year we hold an event called Decision Days. While the intent of the event is to honor the pioneering few who over a decade ago decided to join me in pursuit of this vision, it always concludes with setting our sights on the future. In essence, we look back to measure how we did and we look forward to figure out where we are going.

In preparation for our upcoming Decision Days 2006, I went into the archives to see what I said way back when. I thought it would be a good exercise to see if I was right, close to right or if I should leave the past in the past. No worries. I don’t mind taking a risk.  

Here are the bullets from my 1998 speech called the “Entertainment Experience of 2006”:

•         Disparate content sources will be combined by the consumer to customize choice. CABLE must embrace this shift.

2006 Update: This hasn’t hit the mainstream, yet… It will. Viewers don’t care where content comes from. We only care that we can consume it. We only care that the remote in our hand navigates us to what we want to watch. With cool companies like Hauppauge creating digital media adaptors (DMA’s) that sit next to your flat-panel and talk to your PC this isn’t too far into the future. One screen with all sources…

•         In-home entertainment-servers will manage consumer choice (+ content available due to CONVERGENCE.)

2006 Update: OK, so I jumped the gun a bit on this one. That said, this is more of a question of “when” and not “if”.

•         Entertainment server = data store for family audio and video assets.  Formats such as VHS and DVD will disappear.

2006 Update: I have to admit I never envisioned Apple (iTunes) entering this fray, but it did happen. It is happening… Wouldn’t it be great if you never went to Blockbuster again?

•         The average household will receive 240 Mb/s of FREE over-the-air, DTV content, from local TV stations. This forms the foundation of making TV entertainment asynchronous.

2006 Update: I had to chuckle when I read this one. My financial advisors squirm in their seats when I start waxing on about this… It is absolutely true. Unfortunately, it is going to take some time to happen. In short, TV stations have the digital capacity to send you packets of data. Those packets could be anything, including last night’s Desperate Housewives.

•         Wireless IP delivery of content will put entertainment – synchronous and asynchronous – in virtually every room…on-demand and interactive

2006 Update: Doesn’t seem like much of a prediction today, does it? However, when I wrote it Monica Lewinsky was a household name.

•         PVRs, while becoming prevalent between now and then, will ultimately suffer the fate of the 8-track. Broadband and digital delivery will replace TIVO and its competitors.

2006 Update: I was wrong. For as much buzz as TiVo has received in the past several years, they have yet to become prevalent. I am not sure why the rollout of DVR’s has been so slow. It makes you wonder, though, if you can go to ABC.com to see LOST when you missed it, do you really need a DVR? I still believe the coolest feature on TiVo is the pause button.

•         Stereo receivers will be rendered obsolete as a result of AWBR.

2006 Update: Was I ever wrong about this one. Still, are stereo receivers collecting dust because of iPods? Maybe. 

•         Delivery of digital content will be seamless to the end-user.

2006 Update: OK, now I am really losing steam. I’ll check back with you in 2016.

•         Consumers will take their local television and radio programming on travels.

2006 Update: I was way too early on this one. Slingbox, though, is making a run at it. Cool device. My local BestBuy sold one (and that was to me). This will happen, but you won’t need additional hardware to do it. You’ll simply register with the stations you like back home and then use your broadband device wherever you are to watch television back home. Simple. No additional hardware required.

•         Two-way broadcasting will give rise to better programming, more targeted ads and exact viewer/listener metrics.

2006 Update: OK, now I am really really losing steam. Check back on this one. The company, or companies, that make this a reality will have meteoric, almost Google-like, growth in the next 3 – 5 years…

•         Out-of-market TV will combine with in-market advertising creating a shift.

2006 Update: I believed in 1998, and even more so today, that while people naturally want to watch programming from back home (currently via Slingbox), the real opportunity is not what is on in your own living room but what is on in everyone else’s. This prediction will be 100% accurate in 2007. There you have it. Eleven predictions made in 1998. Some were right. Some were wrong. Some which were wrong may ultimately prove to be right. Some will never be right. That’s the fun thing about thinking about the future. If you the hire the right people, secure the right partners and execute the right plan you will always be right. That’s what business is all about, isn’t it?