Television is completely in the doldrums. While internet-based TV moves towards an app-oriented world where different services have different exclusive content, plus some of the same stuff on demand, while mainstream television just festers in a sea of tired formulas, Judge Judy rip offs and endless Top Gear. It’s all about control – putting you in the driving seat. Which isn’t what TV was ever about, for its first 40 years. It was about watching a schedule that had been put together by people who had really thought about it, that everyone got to share.
I’m interested in a way forward that for now I’m calling Corporate TV. How do films and television programmes, or even clips from films and television programmes serve the entire business world? Why do people walk into a company lobby and see the tedious generic chatter of CNN or Bloomberg, or BBC News 24? When they could be seeing a scene from a Clint Eastwood movie, that articulates some aspect of the problem-solving culture of the firm. Or an episode of a 1960s cop show, that happens to be the favourite of a quiet lady who works in accounts. Or a few episodes of Knots Landing, much loved by someone’s mum. This is the water cooler for the 21st century.
The challenge right now is how to curate these shows, how it would work inside a firm, and how rights and licensing is organised, how certain people are paid and the various ways that the “TV” station can be viewed – which should include in physical spaces and also streaming from the company website itself. The service can also be a hit in venues – cafes, etc. But the first way I’m envisaging it is through large projection, in lobby spaces.
The concept offers so much potential to draw on the rich depth of cultural content that is currently lost in the “Blockbuster” style navigation assumptions of all the contemporary digital video services. There is so much more to explore – an NGO focused on water, could show great documentary material from India, about its rivers. Not earnest NGO-sponsored TV, but great content produced by reputable broadcasters. It could actually fuel a fresh wave of investment in good quality documentary content, that leaps beyond the existing kinds of really lame corporate videos that get produced to show once, at a company conference, and then forever to fester on websites or in boxes of DVDs. “Have you see last year’s corporate video?”
A big driver? The availability of good, big, low cost video screens now and unprecendented ability now to stream video off the internet. With no real idea what to play on them. And, most of all, an amazing array of content, all out there, hardly used, hardly watched.
First drafted: Torrevieja, Spain. 12.12.2015