When was the last time you planned to watch a TV programme at the time it was broadcast?
For many of us it’s difficult to be sat on the sofa at a given time to enable us to watch X Factor or Eastenders. Life just isn’t like that any more, and increasingly the Gen Ys out there are used to having entertainment at the touch of a button, not when they are told they can watch it. TV has long been based on a ‘serial’ approach i.e. one programme following another. But do we still consume our entertainment like this?
It is true that ‘live’ TV events like X Factor or Strictly do still draw a crowd. There is a sense of shared enjoyment – it’s a social event in the same way we tend to experience a film at the cinema. However the numbers tuning into the big shows are falling and this could be due to two factors; either the formats are starting to wear a little thin or people choose to consume their TV in another way (or at another time). With the advent of Sky +, PVRs, smart TVs and online catch-up sites like iplayer, 4oD and to some extent YouTube, there is little need to be sat in front of the TV when a broadcaster tells you to be.
So what does this mean for broadcasters and the future of TV programming? Increasingly we will see a focus on fewer high value productions such as Downton Abbey which will remain as TV events, with cheaper productions made to be viewed via the broadcaster’s on demand service. This gives room for smaller production companies to compete in the marketplace, providing lower budget but equally compelling content which can be viewed favourably beside that of their larger cousins and via a similar medium. It will also allow for a more versatile approach where length is immaterial.
The one fly in the ointment as always will be finance. Advertising will continue to be the main source of income for the foreseeable future but it may be that other funding models may appear, such as cloud subscription channels where you could subscribe in the same way as LOVEFiLM, but covering a very wide range of content from broadcast to narrowcast (kids to kayaks).