May 132012



Presenting Media140 - Photo: The Cut Creative, Perth

I keynoted at the Media140 conference three weeks ago (26 Apr 2012) wearing my ABC Exec Producer TV Multi Platform hat. Now responsible for non-kids ABC TV online & mobile offerings & TV mobile and social strategy my 20 minute talk was rather focused on the high level challenges for broadcasters trying to truly integrate fiction, factual and entertainment with social, mobile and 2nd screen (or synch services). The transcript, slideshare and more ore detail follow but first…

Absent note

…apologies to regular readers for my long absence from post on this blog. I started an ABC role back in October which overlapped with me running the Screen Australia StoryLabs weeks and as well as tidying up and finishing a range of commercial projects meant actually talking/blogging about all the stuff I have been doing in long form, has been tricky – plus there are confidentialities to take into account. The adage certainly holds true those who can, do, those who can’t, write long blog posts or podcasts on the topic 🙂 Might get flamed on that one, but I think having an hour or two to sit and post is a luxury. In other full time roles I still manage to provide a commentary into the cloud but the ABC is particularly under resourced in multi platform areas with many folk working beyond the call of duty. I am also taking advantage of my partner Laurel Papworthaway, spending a few weeks on a pilgrimage across the Camino in Spain, and doing very well with it.

Talk intro – the challenge, the hybrid and the prototyping

Also like most big media organisations the ABC is a mirror of the external larger world itself. There are silo’s, politics, technical differences across the divisions, resource scarcity, diluted budgets and linear controllers / commissioners who all need to be sold on the importance of Multi Platform and the potential of different types of services. But that means a good part of my role inside the ABC is very similar to my BBC Senior Dev Producer role, to evangelise but also implement new services. That means I am exposed to the key challenges in terms of merging or hybridising broadcast and on-demand TV with some of the key driving forces outside a broadcasters world. Without drilling down into the detail (or breaking any confidentiality!) the top level challenges for all traditionally one-way media organisations is:

  • Sorry too busy to talk – We don’t have enough people resources, social media staff, to engage in widespread, authentic, editorial conversation with our audience/users
  • Bolt on effect – Our massive internal technical infrastructure/s can’t be glued to always new, transient, multiple external services/APIs
  • That’s they way it is done – We have decades old editorial & commissioning processes in place and until any big multi-platform ‘story-telling’ breakthroughs we will need convincing of a reason for changing that
  • Multi platform and social media is really about marketing isn’t it and therefore warrants those types of relatively small budgets
  • Sure everyone is shifting attention to mobile & social but until there is zero people watching our main channels we have a job to do!
  • Rights are not set up for multi platform, period. Expensively produced linear video leads, the rest follows, still.
  • and the list goes on and on

Ok I am being a little provocative and at the ABC, I and many others are very aware of the challenges and getting on with the changes required. Alongside managing producers and resources I am able to run group workshops internally with the key show creatives and together (vs telling what we should be doing!) to slowly move forward. I also have a great role in developing working prototypes (and final services) of synchronous 2nd screen and social mobile services. Being several months into these,  I also refer to at the end of my talk of the key differences between vanilla social TV, content owner social TV, content owner driven 2nd screen storytelling and the hybrid of all of them. When someone is engaged with a great synch story experience of say tablet against TV it makes absolute sense to include social elements, for them to invite and share that experience.

I also mentioned in the talk and interviews around it about the need for content owners and broadcasters to be driving the 2nd screen experience – these have to be truly integrated story experience and although there is value in trying to layer or bolt on these synchronous services. Although voting, polling, surveying type services can work, ideally with presenter driven call to actions, many well written pieces of video do not have much ‘space’ for the interaction (or parallel narratives to ideally slot in). There are two arguments to that. Firstly formulaic storytelling combined with the distractions our already existing 2nd screen habit means we are constantly snacking on our 2nd screen anyway and ‘missing’ the important bits of the show. Secondly, in a world where on-demand, when you want it, watching is so ubiquitous, I am devising several formats where the linear video is simple paused and the interactive component has its own space to breathe in this time frozen moments. I am suggesting in all my meetings with show creatives that if possible, the best approach is to design from the ground up. But that then moves into eons old ‘commissioning’ processes and for now I won’t go there, perhaps later…OK onto the talk

Hello, Good Morning and Welcome

It was great to be in Perth again with a very enthusiastic crowd, which speaking to the folks there, encompassed most of the digital fraternity it seemed. There were many folk live blogging the event and my talk (e.g.: Sarah Tierney and Matthew Allen), I did a few small interviews (e.g.: Western Australian / Yahoo)  and at least 60% of the audience tweeting. Media140 is the brainchild of Andrew Gregson and the event was very well organised, technically and management wise. The slides below were presented on my new iPad (3) so hopefully the formatting came across OK. Transcription follows the slides

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Jan 022006

Within hours of a prediction in the last post that one of the online giants would start to deliver TV-like shows over the internet I find a report “…Reality series pilot to be broadcast on the internet” in the San Francisco chronicle. The article points out that Yahoo! is starting to dip its toes into the future of television by offering an interactive, bells and whistles service from the outset with key audience involvement elements integrated from the start – the only way to go in the broadband TV world of course. The program is called “Wow House” and is rife for advertising as it is about US families equipping their homes with the latest gadgets off an initial sum of $10k.

The program, which follows two families as they refurbish their homes with $10,000 in new electronics, is the most concrete example yet of Yahoo’s Hollywood ambitions. It’s just an early step, analysts said, in Yahoo’s ultimate goal: creating television of the future.
Semel is betting that online video’s popularity is about to take off. Internet users would flock to Yahoo to watch shows on their computers or other Internet connected devices, creating a potentially lucrative opportunity to sell advertising. (snip)
“Wow House,” Yahoo’s new show, will be broadcast in an area for technology coverage that the company is carving out on its Web site. Families participating in the show compete to outfit their homes with the latest electronics, such as theater systems, high-definition televisions and stereos. The family that wins, as voted by viewers, will keep the merchandise.
The pilot cost around $100,000 to produce, far less than the millions it usually costs for a scripted, star-studded show such as “Desperate Housewives.” Revenue will come from advertising and, potentially, companies paying to place their products on the show.

As the web becomes a capable medium for TV-like content, Yahoo! is slowly adding TV execs to its ranks from the ABC and CBS to make sure its skill-set is ready for this years explosion. The numbers of viewers of streamed and on-demand TV through the major portals is starting to break all records and Yahoo! is feeding this fire and also getting a march on Google by offering a couple of re-runs of prime time CBS comedy over the XMas break.

In December, Yahoo broadcast shock jock Howard Stern celebrating his departure from FM radio to Sirius satellite radio. Viewers watched 4.4 million video streams on the day of the event, 214,000 of them at one time, a record for live Webcasts on the site, according to Yahoo.
Last week, Yahoo scored another coup by joining with CBS to stream some reruns of the network’s prime-time comedies, “Two and a Half Men,” staring Charlie Sheen, and “How I Met Your Mother.” The programs, shown without commercials, will be available in Yahoo’s television area until Monday afternoon.
“We are going to put our content in every form on every device,” said Larry Kramer, who leads CBS’ online arm. “We’re testing them all.”

Whether as yesterdays prediction suggests Yahoo! will be seen as enemy or potential partner by the TV networks remains to be seen – broadcasters are very keen to bring audiences to their own sites, perhaps only a company with the unique funding model of the BBC will be able to weild its portal power against the big boys.

Network executives would prefer to have users go to their own Web sites, where they can offer more bells and whistles like games and splashy graphics and don’t have to share advertising revenue. But Yahoo’s has far more traffic.
“That’s the dilemma we have with the portals,” Kramer said. “I want a younger and bigger audience, but I don’t have an instant messenger or e-mail to build as much of an audience on my own Web sites.”

Back to this pilot which suggests there is still a significant amount of learning to come and it will be one of these over the next few months that will really open the eyes of the traditionalists broadcasters. As my namesake from Showtime states…

For now, Robert Hayes, senior vice president of new media for Showtime Networks Inc., the cable channel, doesn’t consider Yahoo to be a rival along the lines of traditional television networks. Indeed, he made a landmark deal to stream the pilot episode of the now canceled comedy series “Fat Actress,” staring Kirstie Alley, on Yahoo for five days.
Viewers could also watch the show online simultaneously with its television broadcast premiere.
But he’s unsure about Yahoo’s threat over the long run.
The evolution of online television has been extremely fast, he said, even just during the last 90 days.
“Right now, we don’t see Yahoo as a rival, Hayes said. “In the future, that may change.”

I think Mr. Hayes that things will definitely change, not ‘may’, but until that happens lets hope Yahoo! and Google amoungst others keep pushing the boundaries and lets hope that the new kind of programming is not ‘all’ advertorial and reality in nature.

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2005

Nov 232005

Personalization, on-the-move. Reported by a few blogs and spotted by New Scientist it looks like the race has begun for location aware profiling – TiVo have put in a patent for “a mobile personalization system“. The patent synopsis

A multimedia mobile personalization system provides a remote control that detects a user’s electronic tag, e.g. an RFID tag. The remote control notifies a multimedia device of the user’s identity. The multimedia devices tailors it operations to the user’s preferences stored locally. Multimedia content such as broadcast or recorded television programs, music play lists, and the like could be sorted, displayed, or restricted, depending on the user identifier.

This is long overdue especially as TV-Anytime which I co-led (and who had TiVo in its ranks for a few years) talked about the importance of mobile profiles in its phase two work – why expect a hundred systems to learn your likes and dislikes when you could do it once and have compatibility. Indeed I wrote several articles and papers on it over the last 5 years, one here. But as in other very recent TiVo developments its TiVoToGo software (report by StarTribune) aimed at video iPod and PSP has got the backs up of the TV industry. Variety in it’s article “Peeved over TiVo” reports that TiVo who already has upset the TV industry for many years with their ad skipping capability have now upset them again because they are allowing viewers to easily capture TV programmes and get them mobile! Especially after the $1.99 per programme business model which looked set to start TV down a new road…

The pioneer of the digital video recording bizbiz called the move an “enhancement” of its TiVoToGo service, which allows users to transfer recorded shows to a PC. The new software, which will be released early next year, allows users to transfer these files to a portable player.
“We’re making it easy for consumers to enjoy the TV shows they want to watch right from their iPod or PSP,” said TiVo CEO and former NBC exec Tom Rogers. (snip)
The immediate impact of the service, which will be offered soon after the new year, would be to undercut ABC’s video-on-demand offering, through which users can buy episodes of “Lost” and other shows for $1.99 each to view on PCs or video iPods.
NBC and CBS recently began offering skeins on-demand for 99¢ through DirecTV and Comcast, respectively.

The boat is not yet tipped over but TiVo, Google and others are severly rocking it at the moment. Another article trying to capture the storms hitting the ‘video/tv’ industry at the moment is also captured in business week’s report End of TV article. Just like good journalism that thrives on good gossip generated by its TV stars on the way and then can’t wait to trash them to generate more readership, so TV seems to be the star at the moment. Everyone wants to toll it’s final bell, or at least be the first to suggest TV is over. I think just those who said film and radio was going to die in the late 40s, or how in early 2000’s VOD will kill off DVD film there may be some egg on faces. I for one suggest TV will simply evolve, become video delivered in a multitude of ways. TV will not die, simply the word we currently use for video delivered in a most inefficient way – schedule broadcast.

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2005

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