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The future of television hinges on the democratisation of distribution as well as content

Perception TV
First published: 09-01-2016
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Create DateJanuary 13, 2016
Last UpdatedJanuary 14, 2016

According to the Video Advertising Bureau in Q2 of 2015 90% of all viewing time was still spent watching television.  Even millennials – generally believed to be the audience least likely to consume linear television – spent more than 80% of their video time is spent in front of the TV.

All age groups spend more than 75% of the time allocated to consuming video in front of television programmes. For all the forecast of the demise of TV, the medium remains incredibly popular – the question is why?

An adaptive, digital embracing technology

TV has a history of innovation.  The 1980’s introduced video recording; not long after cable and satellite vastly extended consumer choice.  As technology became more intelligent, as did TV with the introduction of hard disc drive recording, digital channels, on demand programming and, most recently, catch up television services delivered over the internet.

Most of these developments have been successful in providing increased flexibility. Consumers of television have never had more choice to watch what they want, when they want and where they want.

The research conducted by the Video Advertising Bureau also demonstrated that consumption of television on smartphones and tablets is increasing whilst PC viewing is falling. As technology evolves people’s habits (moving from a desktop experience to a smartphone experience, for example), as does people’s hunger for a real television experience and the level of expectation grows – regardless of where or on which device they are consuming TV.

Democratisation of broadcast

As well as expanding choice for consumers, digitisation further opens up television to brands that previously would not have been able to make a business from it. A number of large sporting brands now have TV channels and there has been a growth in channels portraying news dedicated to different countries, religions or lifestyles (such as Al Jazeera and Russia Today).  To date these have been based on traditional TV platforms but this will change as the reliability of IPTV increases and the cost continues to reduce. This opens up the opportunity to monetise content that was previously uneconomic and enables new organisations to create and distribute TV, further fuelling choice and driving the next wave of television choices.

The challenge for new entrants

Whilst it may be cheaper for new entrants to deliver TV over the internet it certainly is not less complicated. There are a number of technical challenges that need to be overcome to deliver effective television services.

Business models are far from “tried and tested” especially in an advertising market where the impact of innovations such as programmatic trading and dynamic insertion are yet to be fully seen.  Complications include creating the right combination of advertising and subscription fees; delivering a reliable service over networks already creaking with data demand and ensuring that content is accessible and discoverable to users.

It is hardly surprising that non-traditional broadcasters have steered clear of television to date. But this is increasingly not an option. In a quad play world, service providers that cannot deliver all relevant services will not enjoy the cross promotion opportunities and customer loyalty that comes with a successful television service.

According to VOD Professional at VUIX 2015, the most important aspect for a user (more important than cost and content availability) is that a TV service works faultlessly and that sophisticated features are available wherever and whenever they watch. Customers have set their TV expectations high – anything less than a seamless experience simply will not do.  This echoes the lessons from the Video Advertising Bureau’s research: people want to consume TV on different devices, but they still want it to be recognisable as television.  Simply having a video presence on the web is not television.

In reality, there are four key pillars that make modern television compelling: live TV; catch up TV; video on demand and the capability to record programme for viewing later.  To drive compelling content on new devices such as smartphones and tablets, all four need to be present and delivered in one seamless experience.  A consumer should be able to start watching a programme on an iPad on the commute home, pause and pick up again at exactly the same moment on the TV in the living room.

At PerceptionTV, our objective was to deliver this requirement rapidly and cost effectively, enabling operators, broadcasters and content owners to launch new TV services, within months rather than years. The Perception Platform, now operational for more than nine years, delivers that stability and cutting edge functionality, leading this revolution in technology and change within IPTV.

Conclusion

Despite very real challenges, television continues to deliver a service that drives customer loyalty like no other in the communications portfolio, driving innovation that has delivered more choice to users and kept even the most connected consumers loyal to TV.  If TV is to continue to evolve it will need to deliver a user experience that is familiar, seamless and integrated across a wide range of devices.  Delivering this is challenging for broadcasters and service providers without experience in TV delivery will need third party expertise to ensure that they deliver the experience that consumers expect.


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