Olympics: There’s Life in the Old Tube Yet

In the Hutong

Home-made quesadillas and salsa

2057 hrs.

If you’re a regular reader here in the Hutong, you will know that despite something of a history in the TV business, I have swallowed the New Media Kool-Aid in the belief that the halcyon days of television and print are over.

If the Olympics proves one thing, however, it is that television remains a singularly powerful medium in this day of , particularly in delivering live events. In such cases, the idiot box remains a superior means of content delivery.

When I wrote it up in AdAge, however, several of the responses floored me. There is apparently this meme in the business that while television has immediacy, the Internet has memory, and that makes it a superior medium.

I get that, but I still have a hard time understanding why “memory” trumps a huge-screen HDTV with surround-sound in terms of conveying the experience of a live event, and you can experience it with friends and family in a way that staring at your computer screen can’t touch.

To paraphrase the old AT&T commercials, HDTV is the next best thing to being there.

Now, lest you think I am a TV partisan, keep in mind that I still think that outside of live events and maybe breaking news, television is an inferior medium of content delivery to the Internet. My three TVs are dark. My video is delivered via iTunes and (legal) DVDs. My news comes over RSS. Games on my computer and PSP have replaced much of my TV time.

I subscribe to magazines, have the hard copies sent to my mom’s house, and read the articles online or download PDFs.

Books, on the other hand, are still 75% print. But then, Kindle is not available in China yet.

Television is in trouble, to be sure, but live events are the exception. If broadcasters focus on that opportunity, there may still be life in the old tube yet.


About David Wolf

An adviser to corporations and organizations on strategy, communications, and public affairs, David Wolf has been working and living in Beijing since 1995, and now divides his time between China and California. He also serves as a policy and industry analyst focused on innovative and creative industries, a futurist, and an amateur historian.
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