Forget about channel surfing--it's so passe. I'm at the Future of Television Conference at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, where content companies, tech giants, and startups are convening to figure out what television should and will look like tomorrow.
The digital future is increasingly crowded and all the players here want to make it easy to consume their content, delivering what you want, when you want it.
The head of IBM's Media and Entertainment division Steve Canepa made the opening keynote yesterday. His fast-growing divisions gives both strategy advise and tech solutions. Canepa tells me one big trend everyone's talking about is customization: tailoring products precisely to viewers also serves advertisers, because they can know their messages are being heard by the right people.
He says TV won't be about a passive process but it'll be more of a give and take between consumers and their gadgets--a dialog about what exactly they want, when, and even why.
The tech giants are in the spotlight here. Microsoft is showcasing its "Media Room" software, which it licenses to broadband service providers. Its focus is connectivity. Launched by Bill Gates at the Consumer Electronics show in January, it connects devices within the home, giving you access to your TV and DVR on virtually any gadget.
It also connects people by layering a social network element on top of your social network process. The head of this Microsoft TV division described it to me as connecting what was a previously isolating experience of watching TV (except the water cooler the next day).
And then there are the content creators: they're all trying to figure out how to monetize their products without cannibalizing revenues in as many ways as possible. More on that after I talk to some more of the studios later today.