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Simon Tunstill

I’m not sure we’re the ones missing the point, James. The BARB viewing data does indeed underline that people enjoy watching great content on a big screen; but it also shows people prefer watching it live. This is down to the basic human desire to share experiences (Twitter et al are fuelling this). It is important to separate technology from human behaviour. Apple stole a march on the music industry because it made the experience easier and better (cheaper). The broadcast TV experience is not comparable (nor is it to ‘phones). TV is already easy – and preferred -  and, thanks to new technologies like DTRs and on-demand services and social media, is supplemented by new ways to watch which are enhancing live TV viewing, not detracting from it.  The TV industry reacted fast to give people the TV content they want in many different ways, and paid for in a range of ways, whether free with ads, micro-payments, or subscription. 

Record BARB figures don’t show people love the TV industry; they show they love TV, which happens to be made and/or paid for by the TV broadcasters (funded by advertising, subscribers and the licence fee). They are far from complacent but if new companies join the TV industry – i.e. properly funded quality content – that’s fine.  It’s just normal competition and given the TV industry is an attractive place to be, they’re welcome if they make TV better.

What are you actually suggesting software companies will do that will ‘eat TV’?  There are of course lots of technology companies (set manufacturers included) wanting to carve themselves a slice of the action by interposing themselves between viewers and the content they love but unless they make it a better experience for viewers and an attractive business proposition for the people who own the content they won’t get far. Witness what happened to Google TV Mk1.   On-demand viewing may nibble into live viewing when it gets delivered to the big TV set, but technology is having nothing but positive effects for TV overall. I can see why it might spell danger for DVD sales (why buy or rent when it is delivered straight to your TV), but not watching TV.

By reporting the facts about TV viewing today we are not saying nothing  is ever going to change.  What would you have us do?  We also research the future of TV and our much-appreciated Tellyporting research gave families connected TVs and other connected technologies to see how the effect on their viewing behaviour (not much ).  It’s important to keep these things grounded in real human behaviour rather than get carried away by technologists’ wish-lists.

(I work for Thinkbox)

James Cherkoff

Thanks Simon, that's very helpful comment - much appreciated.

When I suggest that technology companies are 'eating TV', I'm anticipating a similar outcome to the music and newspaper industries, where mega-tech companies unbundle products to offer consumers greater value. All driven by the same trends eg more powerful, cheaper connectivity.

I agree it's early days as demonstrated, as you say, by Google TV MkI. However, it doesn't seem likely that Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple et al are going to stop there. They have spotted that current TV measurement metrics can be improved, including live TV, thereby offering better value to brands, and intend to use their vast resources to make that happen.

There is of course plenty of innovation occuring within TV, eg Sky Go. However, I think it's unwise to refer to the many TV services being offered by technology companies, such as Google, as a 'wish-list' as these companies now have a track record of making their wishes come true.

As you say it's important to focus on 'real human behaviour'. However, I would suggest that as the range of services increases people will migrate to those offering the best value, just as they have to Netflix in the US.

Only time will tell, thanks again for dropping by.


One really has to read the excellent Andreeson article, which spends more time elaborating the idea.

It seems to me that Andreeson is using 'software' as an emblem for computerisation. It's really about the shift from analog to digital, isn't it? And the inherent need to add intelligence to our tools, for radical gains in efficiency and power.

TV is an analog. It predates the computer. It doesn't have any intelligence at all. The problem: as soon as you start adding intelligence to TV, it's not even TV anymore! TV is hardware. TV is a broadcast signal. TV is a container for programs. TV is commercial television. TV is the BBC. The first bit of intelligence we add: skipping commercials and time shifting, ie. getting rid of the broadcast bit and the businesses model bit. Notably the BBC can thrive in a digital world. Yet we could say TV is disintegrating.

I added intelligence to my TV in 2002 by replacing it with a computer. It's an iMac. You can intelligently program it to record any Scorsese movie, but only as long as it's on the BBC and Tom Cruise isn't in it. And the software lets you get up in the middle of the football game - and watch it on your iPhone on the way to the pub. And you can watch anything that's on your 'TV' - in the living room - on your iPhone, where ever you are. The iPhone is the remote control and the mobile version of the TV. The TV has it's own email address. It also has a Twitter account so we can DM it shows. Programs come from TV and podcasts and Vimeo, YouTube, LiveStream (#occupy), bittorrent, iPlayer, everywhere.

I think more fundamentally, TV interposes itself between viewers and the content they love. People love their shows the way they love their songs, and they love TV the way they love the album. Exploding the medium is a by product of intelligence.

James Cherkoff

Hey Brad, absolutely great comment as ever, thanks for dropping by... ;-)


The State Of Broadcast Television

"A recent Nielson study shows that while DVRs allow people to skip commercials, most people still watch them," said the infographic.

Yah. Is that like, "A recent FSA study shows that while de-regulation of financial services allows people to steal with impunity - a few million will allow you to ride out the collapse of the Western civilisation from the comfortable viewing distance of a luxurious, high security, gated community or castle - but most people still enjoy being honest."

James Cherkoff

Heh, thanks Brad. Reminds me of some research that Sky once put showing that ads are more effective when viewed at PVR speed (30 x faster than normal)...

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