“Transformation is the order of the day.” That’s what we can expect from the future of digital television, according to Eric Berger, chief digital officer at Sony Pictures Television Networks and general manager of Crackle, the studio’s global video entertainment network and streaming service.
He would know about transformation: under his direction, Crackle has become a leading over-the-top, premium ad-supported network with original programming available on a variety of platforms and accessible in 21 countries, including the United States, Canada and others in Latin America.
Berger, who will receive the Media and Entertainment Leadership Award, presented by Deloitte, also oversees all marketing, distribution, video operation and advertising for both Crackle and PlayStation. He’s responsible for the development of original programming for Crackle.
Under Berger’s direction, Crackle has operated like a television network, creating and distributing television programming for every platform, long before other networks were considering their own streaming efforts. If it were up to him, the landscape of digital television would look a lot like Crackle.
“In the future, all TV will be streamed, connected TVs will become dongles, devices will become services [and] services will all become skinny,” says Berger.
Programming, too, will be a perfect marriage of media and technology: “The art of programming will be merged with data, artificial intelligence and the voice control of consumers to create customized experience.”
Among the digital home-entertainment technologies that Berger sees as already in line with that future merger are the use of first-party data with a data management platform and the “migration of direct-to-consumer services,” as well as, targeted programming, messaging and advertising, all of which changes “the way we consume and discover video.”
Berger is aware that with greater tech development and more ways for the consumer to engage with content, there may be some rearranging of the established television industry order. “As technologies emerge, and players shake out, there will be an era of testing, disorder, more testing and continued transformation,” he says.
But what will remain, and what Berger will continue to seek out at Crackle, is “viewer demand for authentic and dynamic storytelling. That is one facet of our business that will remain constant, even in the face of true innovation.”