Whatever happened to the great digital revolution in our living rooms?
Weren’t we all supposed to be sitting in front of smart TVs right now, browsing clever interactive programme guides that had learned our likes and dislikes, pre-recorded our favourite shows just so, and infused our personalised schedules with recommendations from social networks?
Remember Joost and all the other experiments?
Instead we still slump in our sofas and lap up whatever channel schedulers throw at us.
Fact: More than 90% of tv consumption still happens real-time. A measly 2% is true on-demand television. The remainder comes to you courtesy of the hard drive of your personal video recorder or (gasp) VCRs.
So, what’s gone wrong? Why aren’t we living in the much promised on-demand tv nirvana?
Well, dramatic shifts in media consumption habits are like war, or a natural disaster: the best-laid plans crumble on impact with reality.
It’s a lesson we had to learn when the dot.com bubble burst, and it’s a lesson we had to relearn the past few years, during the bursting of the dot.tv bubble.
Here are the five hurdles that brought down the plans of everybody who was plotting our on-demand future:
So far so bad. But not all is lost.
On-demand television is set to sneak up on us.
Somebody, somewhere will get the hardware or the user interface just right - and will have it built in a way that allows for constant iteration.
Yes, it may well be the BBC and its partners, with its YouView platform. It could easily be somebody else.
And - in a few years from now - bandwidth constraints will at long last be disappearing, while hardware can finally deliver the data speeds we need.
It may happen as on-demand television’s very own iPad or iPhone moment. Not that it will be necessarily Apple who provides the hard and/or software.
Or it may just come as a result of many incremental improvements - just like ubiquitous internet and e-commerce arrived some time after the bursting of the dot.com bubble had seemingly dashed most of our online hopes.
In the meantime, though, the world’s television channel schedulers can celebrate a few more triumphs - albeit it only because they haven’t noticed that their tv sets have become a secondary medium, as attention switches to the smartphones and tablets in our hands.