Tom Freston
Fmr. Pres. & CEO, Viacom
01:42

Tom Freston: Television and the Internet

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How will they differ in the next decade?

Tom Freston

Tom Freston was one of MTV's founding executives and until recently served as CEO of Viacom. Freston is responsible for the generation-defining ad campaign "I Want My MTV." In 1987 he became the CEO of MTV Networks, using his position to advance the networks' position in new markets, as well as launching several ancillary product lines and tie-ins, including "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," "The Real World," "Beavis and Butthead," "South Park" and "SpongeBob Square Pants." From 2004, Freston led Viacom, overseeing all cable network properties (MTV Networks and Showtime Networks), the motion picture businesses of Paramount Pictures, and the publishing operations of Simon & Schuster. He resigned in September 2006. Freston was educated at New York University and is currently on the Board of Trustees for Emerson College in Boston. Ideas recorded on: 11/5/07
Transcript

Question: How will the internet and television differ in the coming years?

Tom Freston: Well they may not differ a lot. I mean I would . . . It would be hard to imagine . . . I mean I look at the numbers now how many people stream shows and watch them on their computers. It’s still small. It’s growing, but it’s hard to beat, you know, someone sitting at home six feet away on their couch watching a show the way it was really meant to be watched, not 12 inches away on their computer. I think the real . . . One of the real things that’s gonna happen is when technically it (28:30) becomes possible to essentially hook your Internet up to your television set so you get that sort of lean back, six foot away experience, and the quality of the picture is at like HD level. People are then gonna have access to like, you know, an absolute, infinite amount of video material. So just like kids today, if you talk to a 10 year old kid, they’re not gonna tell you, “Oh this is cable and this is broadcast TV,” cause they don’t . . . It’s just Nickelodeon. They don’t even know from this. It all comes out of the same source. Ten years from now, somebody’s not gonna be able to tell you that I’m watching Heavy.com versus Nickelodeon and one’s on the Internet and one’s broadcast in cable. It’s all gonna be seen as, you know, coming out of the same source – that same . . . whatever screen they’re looking at. And it’ll be kind of interchangeable. So it’s just gonna mean if you’re in any of those businesses it’s gonna be a hell of a lot more competitive than it is right now. And right now it’s already pretty damn competitive.

Recorded On: 7/6/07


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