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All posts by Fred Perkins

Below are all of Fred Perkins's postings, with the most recent are at the bottom of the page.

TV and radio demographics: a BBC time bomb? | free and easy
Tuesday 3 February 2015 11:38AM

In the great debate on "Is broadcast TV being replaced by VOD?" I think there's a fundamental error in the arguments advanced by both extremes in the debate.

VoD and linear TV are NOT in competition, nor are they mutually exclusive. They COMPLEMENT each other. Much noise is being created by those (particularly the mobile telcos and VoD suppliers) that try to convince us that the world is about to abandon linear TV and switch entirely to OnDemand.

This flawed thinking is exemplified by Brian's excellent piece on the BBC3 story, and this debate on TV and Radio demographics.

Back in the days when we had only 5 or less channels, the broadcasters' assumption was that they had to capture the audience early in the evening, and then they would 'hold' them all night.

Now that even the poorest-served viewers have 100 or so channels to choose from, that proposition is fatally flawed. Viewers no longer watch CHANNELS, they watch PROGRAMMES. There is no loyalty to the channel beyond (or even during) the current programme.

Further, we have for years (particularly on Sky) had the ability to timeshift WHEN we view a programme, or how we can cope with multiple programmes we want to watch, which are broadcast at the same time.

"On Demand" actually covers several quite different viewer preferences. It covers timeshifting, advert avoidance, catchup, programme clash situations before we even get into "new" VoD industry driven areas like binge series viewing, or non-TV material. All of which traditional linear TV broadcasters are responding to, much better integrated than the multiplicity of upstarts offering non-standard mechanisms and total confusion as to just what you can get

The additional surge of provision of all the above via mobile or iPad is another diversion driven by telcos desperately giving away or heavily subsidising "anywhere, any device" viewing, as they battle to ultimately gain new revenue streams... yet for the most part, their business models are flawed and distorted (bribing you to take their broadband or mobile services in return for some 'free' content that is available whenever and wherever you want).

All of the current offerings ultimately still depend on the traditional TV broadcast model on which they depend for content. While the VoD and "Connected TV" proponents can selectively interpret statistics, the amount of linear TV viewing has barely changed. The new "consumption" of TV PROGRAMMES is incremental, rather than substitional.

Even the kids and millenials appreciate that "TV" loses almost all of its social networking value if everyone is viewing a programme at different times.

And above all, using IP to deliver broadcast TV to millions on a VoD basis is ludicrously inefficient, and beyond the capabilities of existing broadband or mobile networks.

So, let's not put too much emphasis on 'trends' reported in the behaviour of younger people. Their behaviour is largely driven by what is "free" (or paid for by their parents). And neither of these scenarios will continue to exist when they leave the family nest, and ultimately start their own families. This same generation will also, we all must hope, mature into a a more 'thinking' demograph, rather than one bent on instant gratification and interaction on every front.

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