Kate Bulkley, Media Analyst.

Why Liz made so much sense

By Kate Bulkley

Broadcast News

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For Broadcast August 30, 2012

MacTaggart lecture highlighted need for change, says Kate Bulkley.

As the Edinburgh headaches fade and expense accounts have to be reconciled, I find myself repeating a rather unusual phrase (for me): I agree with Liz.

I’m not concerned about all the family feud headlines that emerged from her MacTaggart lecture, but rather what she said about TV producers and the future of our industry.

There were more than a few I-agree-with-Liz moments. No 1 – “YouTube is beginning to behave like a market leader.” Right on, Ms Murdoch.

“If we don’t have the confidence to collaborate between producers and broadcasters, advertisers and second-screen services, we are in danger of losing the battle when we could be winning.” No argument there.

And if broadcasters don’t change “they are destined to become increasingly marginalised and dependent on occasional national live events”. You mean like the Queen’s Jubilee every decade and an Olympics or World Cup? I agree with Liz here, too.

Her views were not only eloquent, they were also timely. Enders Analysis’ most recent report on the mobile phone sector tells us that 125 million new smartphones were sold worldwide in the second quarter of 2012, a 30% increase year on year. And those 125 million were just a subset of the 450 million total mobile phones sold in the same three-month period.

Enders also revealed Facebook now has 543 million mobile users, while Samsung Electronics stumped up $9.5bn (yes, billion) marketing its products in the past 12 months, and much of that was for Android-powered mobiles and its smart-TV sets, which come with more than 2,000 apps pre-installed.

These are not the kinds of figures you see every day to describe overnight TV audiences or marketing budgets for primetime shows. Yet in the mobile and internet world, the numbers just keep rising.

And I haven’t even mentioned that Ericsson’s just-revealed TV & Video Consumer Trend Report 2012 says 67% of TV viewers use a tablet, smartphone or laptop to watch TV, while 62% are using social media during their TV viewing. No wonder Liz repeatedly raised the issue of second screens in her lecture.

I also agree with her that companies such as Machinima and Makers Studio are doing interesting TV-like things for online audiences of millions of views a month. Machinima’s chief executive told me recently that the company thinks of itself as a “new-style MTV for gamers” and, with YouTube (its broadcasting platform) spending several hundreds of millions of dollars in seed money for dedicated TV-style channels, where do you think younger viewers are going?

Liz asked how soon producers and broadcasters would stop arguing over the minutiae of the regulations governing product placement and CRR when there are much, much bigger threats and opportunities. It’s a good question.

Finally, I liked what Stephen Moffat said about VoD, and specifically that people watch Doctor Who when they want to, not just when the BBC screens it. His quote “your bookcase doesn’t tell you when to read a book” was the best line at the festival. So, Liz, you’ve got company – I agree with Stephen, too.

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