Feb 162016

Long time no post. I know, bad blogger but prompted to write a little post on today’s announcement from the BBC that it is abolishing it’s ‘Divisions – TV and Radio’. Division is the operative word here as I have written about in some of my last posts (eg Mediocre Broadcaster MultiPlatform) the silo walls that traditional broadcasters have built up are the main reason ‘they’ have become more and more irrelevant to evolved multi-platform, personalized audiences.

“In what is being billed as the most far-reaching organisational overhaul in the BBC’s 93-year history, Lord Hall will give a speech before Easter in which he will unveil proposals to axe the corporation’s existing channel-based structures, fundamentally reshaping the organisation into content and audience-led divisions.” Telegraph article

I worked at the BBC for over 8 years when it was going through another major transformation, the introduction of digital, interactive tv and the internet. I recall many meetings as senior development producer with senior management looking at new ways to create cross-platform content, and perhaps do away with these silly political divisions based on distribution vs audience centricity. So here we are almost 20 years later and finally the game is afoot.

The major transformation that has happened with the ubiquitous new medium called broadband has meant audiences can now get what they want on their own terms, not slaves to schedules or broadcasters second guessing what audiences want. The advent of Netflix (and similar) recently means we are finally living into the age of Personalization (which has been the foundation of this blog since 2006 – spend some time in the archives and you will see many prescient articles) – so organisations that split their content based on receiving boxes (TV screen and Radio receiver) are way behind the curve.


Audiences, or users, do not differentiate now between these antiquated, dated devices, they press a button and get, video stream to any device, audio (video without the moving stuff) to any device AND lots of pictures, interactive games/education, personally relevant content and great textual stories.

“New divisions may include BBC Entertain, which will absorb Radio 2 and televised entertainment program, and BBC Inform, in which news services and other radio stations like Five Live will be found. Each new division will have smaller ones underneath it such as BBC Youth (a subdivision of BBC Entertain), which will include the online channel BBC Three and popular music station Radio 1.”  Digital Trends

What Next?

It is the non-passive content where ‘traditional’ broadcasters still need to up their game. Forget the endless tomes written about ‘new gaseous distribution’, that is patently obvious, we need to move beyond billions of people passively watching streams, binging on five of the same show back to back in an evening, a public service broadcasters role is to inform through interaction, not just slick, expensive natural history passive programmes. But I digress. I loved the BBC when I was there. It was trying to pioneer new forms of content, new ways to engage an audience. I am sure that breaking the organisation into Entertain, Inform and Youth (which were silos bandied around back in the late 1990s too!) is a step in the right direction. The next challenge is to really encourage innovative proposals which go beyond video stream, audio stream and a web page and connect with their future mobile, personalized users. I have a mental library of ways they and other broadcasters, who are likely to follow suit, can do that.

Next post – The Emperors Clothes in Virtual Reality….

Apr 232006

We do live in interesting times. In my opinion it has only taken around 6 years to go from a world dominated by broadcast and scheduled viewing to one where any type of media is available on-demand (OD) – well we are almost there. A new report from Insight Research with the catchy title “Streaming Media, IP TV, and Broadband Transport: Telecommunications Carriers and Entertainment Services 2006-2011” looks at the surge of demand for content in the next 5 years. A world of media when, where and on what terms the audience wants it – they will be defining the business models and it is a lost cause trying to second guess the market, which makes many very nervous.

Streaming media —the IP transmission of on-demand rich media that gives the user the ability to listen to audio and view video and graphics animation files from the network without downloading the content—is but one of several technologies being used to deliver information and entertainment services. IPTV, in the context of current broadband transmission technology, will make it possible to move beyond the multicast “time-shift” capabilities of cable’s video-on-demand models so as to deliver true interactivity to unicast, multicast, and broadcast audiences and give carriers a slice of the more than $250 billion forecasted to be spent each year on mass advertising.

It always comes back to advertising doesn’t it, that trusted model. You can download the exec summary from their site – a hard copy of the full report is $3 995 – now theres a business model 😉 But this has some good upfront big picture prose for example:

The most important factor driving the consumer segment is content on demand. Consumers want to be able to listen and watch anything they want, at any time and in any place. The amount of video content available has grown apace with demand: a few broadcast channels expanded into the hundreds on the cable networks, and now thousands more movies are available at video rental stores. Moreover, the web has conditioned the consumer to expect services at any time, while wireless devices make it possible to connect from any location. Thus, the consumer’s desire for the widest possible array of audio and video content on demand is the most pervasive driver of the streaming media industry. (snip)

A truly open environment would foster disintermediation. Disintermediation
refers to the elimination of the middleman, i.e: the traditional content aggregator. When the industry achieves disintermediation, content creators no longer need to be big producers to get into the distribution channel. For example, a small Hollywood production outfit could distribute a movie directly to consumers using the Internet and local broadband access. The direct-to-consumer approach would allow content owners more control over distribution at a lower cost. Furthermore, consumers would have an unlimited number of choices. The new streaming media outlets have the potential to circumvent the traditional and restrictive distribution networks. It is undeniable that the trend is toward disintermediation—and streaming services offered through CDNs move the industry in that direction. It is uncertain how rapidly the rest of the industry will follow.

OK pretty basic big picture and the same noises that have been made for the past two years at least. The key sentence though “it is uncertain…” in regard to the importance of the aggregator. I have presented and lectured on this point as to me this is the real tipping point – what importance will aggregators have in the future? Will incumbant portals and broadcast brands sustain their place in this democratised distribution market. Will search, niche interest portals, social networks and then personalisation become dominant or can mobile and the soon to be IPTV walled gardens keep their stranglehold on consumers. The easy answer is that both will exist in altered forms over the next few years. If anyone says they know the answer put your forefinger and thumb in the nearest salt pot.

Media Layers ©Gary Hayes 2006

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2006