Kate Bulkley, Media Analyst.

Audiences are driving TV’s path

By Kate Bulkley

Broadcast News

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For Broadcast September 25, 2014

TV consumption shouldn’t be an alien concept, says Kate Bulkley

I’ve been travelling to Amsterdam for IBC for more than a decade and each year there is a theme that stands out. Remember the year it was 3D? I guess the futurists aren’t always right.

Thankfully this year’s leitmotif was something more than simply higher resolution TV pictures, or how flyable drones are making live events even more exciting. The overarching theme was how the industry is adapting to a revolution in consumption.

Broadcasting is still the meat and potatoes of the business, but there was a lot more thinking beyond it. While there continues to be heated debate about how much of the broadcasting spectrum will/should be hived off to mobile operators, at this IBC VoD platforms, new advertising models, personalisation and data moved into the mainstream.

Pete Thompson, who is ex-Microsoft and now works for Ericsson, says that ensuring TV’s future is all about making TV move at “web speed”. That means making services function with the same ease as web apps, which is crucial to keeping younger viewers.

TV advertising models are also changing and even Barb was talking “hybrid measurement systems” that count not only traditional TV usage but also connected devices, such as tablets. And from November, ads to Sky homes can be delivered based on the first two letters of the postcode, a much more precise targeting than a national or even a regional ad buy. These are big changes.

So when BBC Worldwide chief executive Tim Davie explained in his IBC keynote about the “future-facing” umbrella brand called BBC Earth, he didn’t mean a conventional TV channel. BBC Earth is a moniker for programming and commercial opportunities related to factual and nature-style programming across many platforms, including live events.

BBCW’s revived investment in indies – witness the 35% stake in Ripper Street and Parade’s End co-producer Lookout Point that was announced this week – is about more than building up a “multimillion-pound production company”.

Davie is interested in getting in on the ground floor of production because content and how it is made is key to the way it can be distributed across multiple platforms in multiple territories. This is where BBCW wants to leverage its expertise, be it with bbc.com players in selected markets, or through more traditional partners.

Even smaller country broadcasters are trying to figure this out. “We have to be everywhere, now because our audience is everywhere and we have to change our business from being content driven to being audience driven,” said Egon Verharen, manager of R&D for Netherlands broadcaster NPO.

But my favourite moment at IBC was interviewing Google Europe president Matt Brittin and hearing how his company was not really trying to take over the world like the Daleks of Doctor Who. “Google is not some extra-terrestrial alien from another world,” he said, but just trying to give consumers what they want. The thing is, the Android logo does look an awful lot like a green Dalek.

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