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    This is the personal blog of Simon Kendrick and covers my interests in media, technology and popular culture. All opinions expressed are my own and may not be representative of past or present employers
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Five predictions on the future of TV

  1. Scheduled broadcast television will always constitute the majority of viewing
  2. The majority of viewing will always be passive
  3. Simultaneous social media activity will remain niche – it will primarily be a substitute for when people aren’t physically in the room with you
  4. A form of modified Pareto principle will persist (maybe not 80% of viewing on 20% of channels, but 60% of viewing on 5% of channels is believable)
  5. Watching TV on a “computer” will peak in a few years – it will be doubly squeezed by web enabled “television” and “mobile” devices

Any other predictions, or disagreement with the above?



14 Responses

  1. Tres interesant predictions. Would you explain why “60% of viewing on 5% of channels is believable”. Not that I disagree, I find interesting as to why.

  2. Well, firstly I should point out that I plucked the number out of the air. But it is based around
    – That there will be hundreds, if not thousands, of channels. 5% would be at least 25 channels
    – People have a limited repertoire of what they will watch
    – Big events – X Factor, World Cup etc – will continue to dominate and driver viewers to the biggest channels that can afford to show these sorts of shows
    – There will always be a hierarchy of channels – starting with the PSBs and moving down the the Sky Ones, Daves etc

  3. I’d agree with most of that (although to be pedantic about it 100% of viewing will take place on a computer a few years from now. It’ll just be a TV shaped computer). Surely you don’t mean linear scheduled TV in point 1 though? I can see how scheduling will survive by becoming more like movie releases (an opening weekend, a couple of weeks of cultural relevance, and a long tail), and will be much more socially-enabled (see Last.TV) to make sure that you still keep up with what your friends are talking about. Linear scheduling seems like VHS or record companies – great when there wasn’t an alternative, but hopelessly outdated now.

  4. Hi Graeme – absolutely agree about the TV becoming a computer, hence me using the quotation marks in point 5!

    I like your description of future scheduling, but am sceptical about the majority of people watching this way. It goes back to the tyranny of choice – people just want to watch something without having to make a conscious choice or tradeoff. It’s OK when you have ten films to choose from, but not thousands of TV shows. This is one reason why the radio persists in competition against self-selection options


  5. I think Simon is right about linear scheduled viewing dominating, Graeme. And we really haven’t got a vested interest either way. Homes with DTRs are a reasonable surrogate in the sense that all their viewing could be on-demand but it remains somewhere between 15% and 20% of viewing and that is true for UK and US.

    People really like the sense of being part of something ‘live’ (even when it’s recorded) and social media is enhancing the desire to watch at the point of broadcast. You can’t live blog or join in a Twitter conversation after the event.

    New BARB research on VoD in cable home shows what the proximity to broadcast is for on-demand; 50% within a day and down to only 2% of viewing after 5 days. Of course after 7 days BARB doesn’t record it at all. I agree with the notion of a release date but I think the window of excitement will be briefer than for cinema, simply because there’s so much more new content on TV pushing yesterday’s stuff from centre-stage. The further away from transmission the less and less likely you are to view what you’ve recorded on your DTR!

  6. Absolutely – I’m not arguing with the current data, but then we can’t currently decide to watch something at the same time as a group of friends across different screens and all chat about it live – we can only do that if we follow the linear schedule. It’s a natural extension of normal TV watching behaviour (except the discussion has always been the day after) – CNN’s Facebook experiments, or ITV’s Primeval previews show that social TV works: it is only a matter of time & technology before that natural desire to chat about what you are watching becomes easier and so more widely spread. Hence the movie model, where you make an appointment to view based on when other people are going, rather than when a single screening is on. If Sky put Facebook Connect on my Sky+ I’d probably never stop watching….

    As with most of my future gazing, I’m probably underestimating the time it will take, but “we overestimate change in the next two years, and underestimate change in the next ten” according to Bill Gates. (in 2004, while he was underestimating Google and Apple)

  7. Interesting debate. I don’t disagree with much of what’s been said but I do wonder if the impact of simultaneous social media activity is being underplayed. When the BBC is developing an iplayer app for Facebook ( http://bit.ly/bei7X ) you have to think that for some, scheduling may eventually be just as likely determined as much by the shared interests of a group of friends than by the whims of TV company schedulers. I can see that it won’t be for everyone, and that big spikes are naturally driven by ‘event TV’, but good entertainment is always more fun if it is shared. Just a thought.

  8. Lots more to say on this subject, and – at the risk of being slagged off for ‘advertising’ – we are running an event on this topic next week at the Soho Hotel Nov 18th. It’s called TV Together: a very social medium. We have new research and panel including Facebook, Amelia Torode of VCCP and David Wilding of PHD. Details on our website.
    One interesting finding is that people like social media opportunities facilitated by broadcasters (because they are likely to have exclusive content etc) but they still want their ‘own’ neutral space to talk about their TV.
    We also found people who spend the whole of a particular show on the phone to a friend or daughter talking about it as they go, and a woman who always goes down the road to watch soaps with a neighbour because her husband won’t watch with her. So it’s not just online, though online is where it’s public and transparent.

  9. Nice advertising Tess!

    For what its worth, i think that what is interesting about this discussion is that everyone seems to agree that TV viewing (whatever that actually means) will remain a largely passive, lean-back-on-your sofa-and chill-out-to-forget-about-the-strains-of-modern-life, pursuit. Simplistically, people will always want content served to them, its just that we/they are finding new ways to choose what content they are going to be served, and also new ways to communicate their views and listen to others without having to wait for the ‘water cooler moment’ the next day. Digital Technologies are simply amplifying, improving and speeding up human behaviours that have existed and will exist for time. The trick for us all is to exploit those behaviours on behalf of advertisers. That’s the hard bit.

  10. That seems to be the opportunity for brands right now – the value system around content is moving from the content itself to the conversation around that content (as a social object). To quote Cory Doctorow (as I haven’t done that for a day or two)

    “Content isn’t king. If I sent you to a desert island and gave you the choice of taking your friends or your movies, you’d choose your friends — if you chose the movies, we’d call you a sociopath. Conversation is king. Content is just something to talk about”

    The difficult bit for media owners is finding the value in those conversations: that isn’t how they built their businesses. But it is just as much of a challenge for brands built on 30″ spots. Put innovative brands together with cash-strapped media owners and you can bring content into a conversational environment – eg. ITV don’t have the streaming rights to World Cup content, as there isn’t the value in it. Bring social graphs into the content through Facebook Connect as in Test Tube TV, and add in the competitive elements of Mint Digital’s Football3s (http://football3s.com/), and this starts to look like the sort of ‘virtual pub’ environment that might entice an alcohol brand to cover the cost of the digital rights to the football.

  11. Thanks all for your comments. There is no doubting that more choice is inherently a good thing (so long as we have help in being able to navigate this – whether the Sky EPG, Google or Radio Times).

    People talk about TV – whether on facebook, liveblogs, at the watercooler or just general “chillaxing” – and fan groups, easter eggs etc all disseminate from this. It’s great that these can be encouraged but companies – whether media owners, advertisers or content producers – need to judge whether and where the demand for extra interactivity (which I believe will remain niche – at best, occasional for some properties) is commercially viable.

    Though it can of course be written off against PR value / brand-building 🙂

  12. […] reading “Five predictions on the future of TV” I thought to myself – I have to disagree with […]

  13. Interesting read, thank you for sharing. I just thought i’d share this youtube video on watching tv channels online- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xp_pat6i_jo

    Again, thank you, and I look forward to more posts from you!!

    happy holidays!!

  14. […] content is currently good and that people don’t know about internet TV. I would argue – and have done – that the nature of TV means that it will always continue to exist and be paramount in […]

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