Monday, 14 October 2013

The Trouble with TV.

The role of "Television" or "Broadcasting" is changing and indeed, those terms need new definitions. No longer should we think of "Television" being the sole domain of "Television stations".

After all, consumers are now watching content in a variety of different ways. It's these changes in distribution, that's the core issue.

Whether we watch content through a traditional TV set currently, it's more likely that viewers will be watching via a connected device such as Xbox or the very excellent, Apple TV next. Indeed, the myriad of choices offered by Apple TV alone, encourages viewers to watch other content than traditional TV broadcasts. It brings a lot of movie sites, YouTube channels and Social Media into the livingroom, which in turn, brings consumers massive choice. Apple TV, for a low investment, is just stunning.

Where there's global choice of content, there's likely to be less viewing of domestic traditional TV "broadcasts" and the major US networks continue to lose audiences. 

Social Media is also getting in on the act.

Twitter is trying to close the gap by becoming more involved in traditional TV through real-time conversation. Mind you, a tweet yesterday from Twitter UK saying "great to see the Xfactor bringing audiences closer and turning up the show's social soundtrack" was instantly slammed by users. Twitter are trying to become friends of the TV industry and it will fail.

Twitter wants to be the 'TV Social network' that helps build audiences which in turn, means bigger audiences for Twitter. Indeed, they're showing 60 second Ads during TV shows on Twitter as an "add on" to the programming and encouraging advertisers to sync their advertising. Take a spot at a particular time on the traditional TV show and sync it with one on Twitter.

In my view, they've tied their colours to the wrong mast.

What connected "broadcasting" devices are bringing is choice and choice that may come without Ads (such as the current online DVD boxset "binge"). A choice that means you never miss the start, the end, or forget to record a programme because online content is not hamstrung by TV schedules. 

In the online world you get content, when you want it, rather than when a broadcaster decides to push it out. That is the main structural problem with traditional TV - Scheduling....rather than viewing freedom. And it's a difficult problem for TV stations to deal with, being so ingrained in their culture.

Of course too, content makers (which includes traditional TV stations) have to get used to a new model, where they're prepared to give out that content to other networks, with the copyright/royalty issues that come with that. But they will in effect, become content providers rather than "broadcasters". 

BBC are starting on this path allowing 30 days access to content rather than a week, announced last week. Moreover, they'll allow some content to be viewed online before it has been traditionally broadcast. That's the sort of thinking required.

The development of "live" programming (notably Sports) is going to be interesting too. At the moment, few online channels, outside of traditional TV stations, have shown an interest in providing live content because of both cost and technology issues. But they might buy it in.

The difficulty with "TV" is that distribution has changed and will change completely. If TV stations are to survive it, they have to be prepared to change their model and few, it seems to me, are. They'd rather rubbish the online experience in the hope that it will go away, which it won't. And whilst they take the seat of Nero, everything changes around them, quickly.

Netflix develop original, exclusive content (winning Emmy's for their content such as 'House of Cards') but they're not the only ones as Amazon and Hulu now do the same. Big budgets too, so their content is real TV competition.

Binge viewing is driving online as well, as all the content of a particular show (the full series for example) is available same day. No longer do you have to wait for weeks to get to the ending. Movie releases are following suit with some Studios releasing Movies online first.

YouTube channels are developing at pace allowing ordinary content providers (be they members of the public or production companies) opportunities to broadcast. Awesomeness TV, a children's channel, now has a staggering 60 million viewers a month on YouTube. One YouTube gaming channel has 251 million. So these YouTube viewers have to be watching less traditional TV.

Social Media such as Twitter and Facebook are venturing into the space albeit in a collaborative way, for now. But they will develop their own content in time with News content being their initial entry.

Without any doubt, traditional TV has to change and become more online enabled and involved. Rebroadcasting of today's programmes via an App or online, doesn't cut it. It requires a complete re-think about how they create content, how they broadcast it and how they need to ditch their scheduling.

Perhaps too, they have to re brand and realise that their future lies not on what they broadcast on TV sets, but rather through their website. It's their website that's king and critically, how that content is being made available. To prioritise the web over traditional, will require in traditional broadcasters, a massive mindset shift.

All in all, it may be too late.....and in the eyes of this writer, it probably is because there is no sign of any dawn of realisation. 


It's gone past time to fight it.