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It seems to us that there is a seismic shift happening that is changing how TV is delivered. The unbundling of cable and the growing importance of Apple (Apple TV) and Google (Chromecast) in the living room underscores this shift, but it’s still surprising that there are not more apps on your smart TV today.
This article in Wired highlights how Sony is now offering a bundle of programming, including the all-important juggernaut that is sports, that will run right on their Playstations. While that may have been even more relevant years ago when Sony itself was more relevant, the article also reports on Apple’s forthcoming bundled offering as well – 25 Channels for $30 / month. This really is a big announcement – Apple getting into the TV content delivery game. With Apple’s brand, distribution mechanism, and payment infrastructure through iTunes, this could accelerate the shift and remake our living rooms sooner than we think.
The fact is, coming off the recent NCAA thriller, which I watched on my iPad using NCAA’s excellent app, is that this is just another set of trends driving more and more content to the app world directly. ABC delivers great shows via their app. Netflix does the same. The choices of direct content are staggering and increasingly found within an app. Got an Apple TV? Then run Airplay and put your stuff up on it.
NCAA March Madness Live on the App Store on iTunes (1)
Source: iTunes
The ultimate possibility is that content bypasses the cable gatekeepers and just goes straight to apps, and that’s exactly what’s happening.  NCAA’s app was an excellent example and it highlighted how other interactive programming can be beautifully wrapped around the core live programming. There’s no question that app makers will have orders of magnitude greater success adding to programming than software makers for cable set top boxes. There’s really no contest.
It was also fascinating to note how the advertising stream was wrapped right into the app cast – no concern about revenue models there – which brings us to Google’s effort to get local ads to match local programming. This article highlights their efforts and really brings to mind just how transformative the trend is: ads delivered in real time, based on geography, dependent on programming or viewing history, you name it. The long standing television ad model is about to be remade with ads that are potentially more relevant, trackable, and ultimately more valuable.
I think what’s most interesting is the pace of how it’s all happening – not as dramatic and instant as what the iPhone did to our world, but steady nonetheless.  And when Apple does roll out bundled content, things are bound to accelerate.  Maybe I said that already? But it bears repeating! And consider this: Apple has still yet to open Apple TV to third party developers. Once it does, what a great gaming platform for the living room that could be. Talk about another seismic shift in the multi-billion dollar gaming industry.
So we’ll join in the chorus: TV is dead. Long live TV.
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