TV goes digital, digital goes TV

“Television reaches this critical stage with a lot of experience and lessons that have been learned by others, with heavy pockets, and two clear strengths: a very strong footprint on social networks, both from its brands and its individual talents, and a unique sensitivity for video storytelling that is higher than that of all its competitors.”

More than a decade ago, the press began to suffer the onslaught of disruption, and a painful change began to take shape. However, for those who understood it for what it was, it also boosted innovation. In recent years, newspapers and digital native media have pioneered experimentation on the Internet — the former pushed by the pressure generated by changes in their business model and in consumer habits, the latter by the very nature of their DNA.

Along the way, television was left behind. Until now. 2018 will be the year we witness how television becomes a leading player in the battle to discover formats, to find audiences in new ways, to compete on the Internet. News shows on Instagram Stories, original YouTube content with renowned journalists, interactive infographics adapted to television or new programming that is linked to mobile notifications. Television will finally become more digital, while the rest of the media will want to be more like television. To the question of who is doing a good job on the digital transformation of television, there are few answers and examples. Up to now, the elites of the digital world have been the likes of The New York Times and BuzzFeed.

I’m a newspaper journalist, having spent most of my career in print and digital media. I’ve gone through this transition before, from separated newsrooms to integration to no borders. When I landed in television more than three years ago, it felt like I had traveled back in time. I feel like I am seeing history repeating. We are living a second great digital transition, which will end up putting us all, regardless of our origin, on the same competitive plane. Television reaches this critical stage with a lot of experience and lessons that have been learned by others, with heavy pockets, and two clear strengths: a very strong footprint on social networks, both from its brands and its individual talents, and a unique sensitivity for video storytelling that is higher than that of all its competitors.

In 2018, we will witness how digital profiles will take additional ownership of the legacy side of TV companies, both in content and in business; those same traditional newsrooms will begin to create original digital content in a consistent manner; and we will see an important leap in innovation under the pressure of changes in consumer habits and variations in the business model of television. Just as happened in print media, some will lag behind. For these projections to materialize successfully, in addition to a predisposition to innovation and unique content, three factors will be necessary: ​​leadership that rises up to the challenge, a deep understanding of the importance of technology, and high-quality execution.

Borja Echevarría is digital editor-in-chief of Univision News.

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