Makers of Tomorrow: William Wang
A Q&A with the Vizio CEO about how his company is reimagining smart TVs amid the streaming revolution.
Makers of Tomorrow is a new series of Entrepreneur-exclusive interviews that extracts expertise and insights from the innovators of today who are shaping our future.
The world of TV is changing fast, and it takes a nimble CEO to keep up. The rise of streaming, corresponding upticks in cord-cutting and the adoption of all-purpose smartphones have forever altered the way people watch their favorite shows.
While many television executives and manufacturers have been caught flat-footed, Vizio has been at the forefront of developing new technology to stay one step ahead. From the mainstreaming of smart TVs to the built-in integration of Netflix and other streaming services, William Wang's company has been an undisputed leader. We recently spoke with the Taiwain-born, California-via-Hawaii-raised business leader about keeping up with constant changes and maintaining a vital industry foothold for years to come.
How do you see streaming services evolving over the next several years?
The popularity of the internet has finally caught on with media distribution for home entertainment, and that will only grow. However, streaming is fragmented right now with the continued influx of new content creators and distributors. It is a smart TV's responsibility to help customers discover and stream content easily through better navigation, discover and search. We're doing everything we can to design a better interface and experience, so the consumer can decide to stream from as many or as few content distributors as they'd like. There will always be advertising-supported free content and subscription-based entertainment, and we'll watch distributors and brands continue to enhance the ways in which they interact with consumers in both. What you will see over the next five years is a more enhanced smart TV design that allows consumers to enjoy both styles of content easily.
How will cable companies remain relevant?
Because cable and internet are so tightly linked, there will continue to be opportunities. That said, from Vizio's perspective, we aren't focused on whether or not there is a future for cable; we are focused on ensuring we have the best interface and user experience so a consumer can choose to watch content however they want, whether that's through a cable MVPD [multichannel video program distributor] or virtual MVPD over the top.
What will smart TVs look like in, say, 2025, and how is Vizio preparing for the long game?
Vizio launched the original smart TV, and we are investing heavily in improved interface and design, because we see it as the center of the connected home. As the idea of a connected home becomes a reality for millions of Americans, the television will be the anchor and focal point of all of the connected devices. If we do this right, consumers should enjoy a simple user interface, unlike before when they had four or five remote controls in the living room from the 20th century.
How will commerce be more seamlessly activated with the smart TV?
Ultimately, this connects back to the idea that the TV should be the center of a connected home. This starts with advertising and shifting our thinking around the traditional 30-second spot, and instead [thinking] about impactful, interactive and targeted advertising measured through attribution. A connected device means that brands can get feedback from the consumer and help consumers act immediately.
As both a consumer and CEO, are you optimistic about the future of how content will be produced and consumed?
We’re living at a time of arguably some of the best entertainment, from television series to movies, and while I can’t tell you if the amount of subscription services and content distributors will continue to increase or begin to consolidate, I am certain that the at-home entertainment experience is going to keep getting better.
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