Cisco: We'll Pay You to Change TV

Networking giant wants to disrupt the boob tube

By Scott Budman
|  Wednesday, May 26, 2010  |  Updated 2:36 PM PDT
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Cisco:  We'll Pay You to Change TV

Damian Trujillo, KNTV

Cisco wants to change TV.

We already know that Silicon Valley networking giant Cisco Systems has plans that go way beyond Internet routers.  The company, famous for its plumbing gear, has spent billions of dollars to gradually transform itself into a consumer company.  It's not quite Apple yet, but after springing for WiFi company Linksys, set-top box maker Scientific Atlanta, and all those Flip Cameras, Cisco is on its way to having a permanent place on your gadget shelf.

Now, Cisco seems to be targeting your livingroom.  And once again, it's willing to pay.  Not billions, or even hundreds of millions, but some decent coin nonetheless.  Cisco is having a contest to let them know, via three-minute video, what you want your television to do. The winner will get $10,000, with also-rans pulling in one of three $500 gift cards to Amazon.com.

If you're interested, the company has set up a website to store your ideas and videos.  I didn't see any requirement to film said videos on Flip Cameras, so I suppose all submissions are welcome.  As with any consumer-oriented company (and Cisco is trying to become one of those), web interaction is crucial.  Expect to see Twitter and Facebook components as the contest grows.

As someone who's worked in TV for pretty much my whole career, I'm curious to see what people will say.  Changes in content?  Changes in the experience?  Changes in the news business?  Bring 'em on.  As TVs themselves change, and as the technologies surrounding them change, too, why not change how we use our tubes?  Give it a try, and who knows?  Maybe a tech giant will discover you.

Scott is both excited by, and wary of, changes in the TV business.  You can reach him on Twitter: @scottbudman

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