TV Professionals: ‘Future of TV Newsletter’ is an Email You Will Actually Look Forward to Receiving

TV Professionals: ‘Future of TV Newsletter’ is an Email You Will Actually Look Forward to Receiving

Jeremy Toeman is the Senior Vice President of Product at Viggle (which acquired his startup, Dijit), and he is also the founder of ‘Future of TV Newsletter,’ an indispensable bi-weekly email newsletter for anyone in the TV industry.

The newsletter features a long list of must-read articles about the future of TV, upcoming conferences, a short guest column from a thought leader, and a section devoted to “Awesome Stats.” Essentially, anything we missed during a week of social TV coverage can be found in Toeman’s newsletter.

In a recent email interview with Toeman, we discuss the newsletter, social TV and future TV trends, and up-and-coming companies to watch for:

Lost Remote: What prompted you to first start the Future of TV newsletter, and after taking a break, bring it back in January?

Jeremy Toeman: In both cases it’s really about the combined core of the work I do – as head of product strategy/innovation at Viggle I need to be looking as far down the road as possible, yet also have a pulse on what’s happening now. So I spend a lot of time reading content on the TV industry from a multitude of sources, and in turn, curate what I find the most valuable back into the newsletter. By “giving back” to those who work in the TV/tech industry, I’m able to get more insight from others, hear their opinions, and fundamentally do my job better.

LR: What are some social TV and future TV trends we should be on the lookout for this year?

Toeman: I’m definitely seeing the rise of the question of what is the platform for social TV; in other words, is it about Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc? So far I’d say “yes” – since TV audiences are fundamentally universal in where they go for social networking, the social TV conversation must go with them to wherever they are. I’d expect to see each major social networking platform create a variety of tools, features, and services around helping audiences find each other, and helping brands, advertisers, and networks find audiences.

LR: There has certainly been enough TV and video news to populate the newsletter; what’s the most surprising thing you’ve read so far?

Toeman: The most surprising industry news in my eyes is the upswing shift in favor of a la carte services – it’s one of those “it’ll never happen” things that just seems to be happening. Now it’s way way way too soon to tell what’ll come of it, but I’ve got a big bucket of popcorn to enjoy while I watch it go down. It’s another example of something really important for my role at Viggle, where our features are focused on live TV audiences – is now the time to change our focus? Is it too soon? What do we do to cater to a new Sling TV or HBOGO customer? It really is a fascinating time in the industry.

LR: You recently published a piece describing the difference between what you call “active television watching” and “passive watching.” Can you talk about this as it relates to social TV?

Toeman: Sure – for a refresher I basically define Active watching as something akin to “uninterruptible” behaviors, versus Passive as “barely even paying attention to the screen.” And its an obvious over-generalization, but I wrote it as a piece to crystallize my own thinking, and share it of course, on how we should think about “when’s the right time to try to engage an audience with some external behavior?” I think that’s a key question any App maker, Social TV provider, etc should be considering, as it could be the differentiator in a huge hit versus a quiet whimper.

LR: Outside of the major social networks (i.e. Facebook and Twitter), the major TV manufacturers (i.e. Samsung and LG), or the major cable providers (i.e. Comcast and Dish), what are some up-and-coming companies you expect to make a splash in either #socialTV or #futureTV?

Toeman: Well I do think it’s a good time to pay attention to the people who actually make and distribute the content itself (e.g. Lionsgate, Sony Pictures Studios, etc) – we tend to overlook them, but I see a power shift under way. Historically if you produced a show, you had to line up the rest of the food chain well in advance to get anywhere – this is the traditional plan for content. But with the increasing ability to directly reach and engage audiences, it seems that the folks on the production end of the spectrum/food chain have some interesting opportunities ahead.  Also, now that the entire first wave of social TV startups has effectively “moved on”, with companies like ours still standing on strong ground, I believe we’ll see the next generation getting funded, launch, etc. 2015 is probably a great year for innovators, entrepreneurs, founders, investors, etc.

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