Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Future of television (1)

I was yesterday in broadcast city NL, Hilversum, for the last iMMovator crossmedia café of 2007. And as could be expected, the theme was about a futuristic theme, not about internet (read Tim Berners-Lee’s Web of People), but about the future of television. It was a real interesting session in which researchers presented their view and in the second part the television producers plus a publisher were interrogated. After the pause Erwin Blom, head digital media with the VPRO broadcast station, gave his farewell speech as he is leaving the VPRO and starting up a company with another internettelevision pioneer, Wessel de Valk. The two blocks delivered a complete contradiction about the future of television. One researcher indicated that there was still growth for tradition television in terms of consumer time and ad spending. Another researcher predicted a consolidation with a few big broadcast/publishing companies remaining by 2015.

At least over one thing people agreed: things go slower than predicted. I still remember that I gave a presentation on broadcast and new media in 1996, talking about program extension with CD-ROM and teletex overlays. By 2002 the Dutch broadcast industry, public and commercial, finally took internet seriously. Now internet has become part and parcel of the industry, at least to some extent.

In passing the researchers were on a demystification tour. Internet television will be most attractive; on the basis of the present figures television will remain attractive. In the Netherlands 17 per cent of the population says to have a Blu-Ray player, while in reality only 1 per cent of Blu-Ray players have been sold. No less than 80 per cent of the television population looks at TV content, while only less than 20 per cent looks also television on computer.

The producers were also quick to dispel myths about the influence of television. Yes they were expanding into in internet and only since the arrival of YouTube, the television companies are taking internet serious. Video is a medium they can understand and commercialise. For example, the producer of SBS, a subsidiary of ProSieben, is preparing the launch of a European competitor to YouTube; it will launch the user generated content video service in February 2008. Important to the broadcast stations are becoming the movie libraries; with movies they can start video on demand on the cable, but also on internet. The television stations will also develop their own content to a larger extent; the television broadcast will be thus be amplified timeshift internet material or the traditional television broadcast will serve as window to the live program on internet. Two trends they foresee is that the 25 years old generation has no television in the living room and secondly that social networks become the new media channels for promotion and even distribution, as the fan clubs can be found there.

Every one agreed that programs are becoming brands and a broadcast station is the sum of all the brands. A broadcasting station is becoming the central unifying factor, on the one hand packaging the brand products for broadcast on television, internet, mobile, events, prints and for merchandising and promoting the brands among the viewing audience, which is fragmented in television viewers, internet and mobile users and events’ participants.

Blog Posting Number: 941


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