3 Technological Advances That Will Sweep the Upfront Market Into the Digital Age

Offering viewers more access to content and improving TV quality

TV consumers want instant gratification, valuable experiences and quality from the content they digest. Getty Images
Headshot of Arvin Patel

While it’s no secret that the television industry is experiencing significant transformation, brands continue to invest in the medium since it’s still seen on Madison Avenue as one of the more effective ways to reach consumers.

That explains why the Upfronts remain one of the more important events on the advertising calendar. It offers media companies the opportunity to showcase their latest creations, with brands and agencies placing their bets on whether they’re buying inventory for next year’s biggest hits or duds.

With billions of ad dollars set to be spent on next year’s shows, brands are basically banking on the idea that consumers will simply show up to watch a show because it might feature a favorite actor or is a remake of a popular TV series. But what if brands and agencies placed a higher premium on something else—something like experience? The way people consume content is changing faster than ever, and media companies need to deliver quality content in ways that are consumer-friendly and intuitive from end to end.

They need to layer in additional capabilities like a brick pillar that fills these gaps and gives consumers a reason to tune in. And they need to give brands the capabilities that they have come to expect on other platforms, such as online and mobile.

The way people consume content is changing faster than ever, and media companies need to deliver quality content in ways that are consumer-friendly and intuitive from end to end.

Technologies like machine learning are enabling more a more refined search and recommendation experience. Data analytics and CRM permit marketers to use data sources to identify audiences permitting targeted advertising, once the sole province of digital marketers. And cross-device ad serving and tracking enables the development of synergistic cross-platform ad campaigns spanning TV, online and mobile.

At my company, TiVo, we’re focused on meeting these demands by making it easier to consume programming, providing more access to content and burnishing existing technologies that all tie into a better experience. We’re also working to solve some of the media industry’s biggest challenges through innovation to improve the quality of viewing and content experiences for media companies, platforms and consumers.

During my career, I’ve worked with some of the world’s most progressive and innovative media companies and watched them attend the annual Upfronts each year to market their content to the largest bidders. What can they do to sweeten the pot and improve the overall content experience? For starters, they can turn to technology.

Here are just three of the latest innovations that promise to upend the Upfronts.

8K UHD and HDR

TV’s with 8K ultra high definition (UHD) resolution permit 16 times the number of pixels than HD and four times the number of 4K, which just recently became the standard for TV displays, and they are becoming increasingly available. Coupled with high dynamic range (HDR) technology that greatly improves image quality by expanding the light versus dark contrast range of pictures, these sets will deliver breathtakingly realistic images to viewers.

Voice recognition 

Increasingly, televisions are becoming voice-enabled devices with third party and native voice recognition digital assistants and capabilities that allow viewers to interact with their television in ways beyond mere search and surfing. This includes picture quality control and other advanced functions so viewers may not need to fish their remotes out from between the couch cushions any longer.

New display types

Just as we get comfortable marveling at the pictures on OLED and QLED TV’s, along comes a new family of display technologies like MicroLED, which foregoes the traditional LED TV’s use of an LED panel for backlight and an LCD panel for pixels and instead has the LEDs deliver illumination and pixels for the display. Similarly, emissive quantum dot technology ditches the backlight panel used in QLED and has the dots generate both illumination and pixels.

We’re breaking new ground and barriers with technology and have started to see this trend truly make an impact on the way people watch TV. By giving consumers what they want—instant gratification, quality content and comprehensive experiences—the advertising dollars spent during the annual Upfront will follow.

Arvin Patel is chief intellectual property officer at TiVO.