TV meets EPG 2.0
May 2012 15

Linear TV maybe viewed as dead or dying, the next generation of customers want content when they want it and not when broadcasters say they should have it. It will still govern the supply and content of VOD (Video on Demand) for the foreseeable, but VOD first could be an idea if ratings continue to push higher in PVR & VOD. People tend to no longer base their lives around TV but rather fit TV in around their lives. This change to viewing habits has led to a drop in ratings in linear TV thus a drop in advertising revenue which means there is less money to make high end programming and we end up with cheap looking easy to reproduce “trash” TV like “Come Dine with me” or “Harry Hill`s TV Burp” although you might enjoy these shows they are cheap and easy to mass produce and fill time. They draw a steady audience and a minimal sponsor and ad revenue. Is this the grave yard of programming?

On the upper floor of TV, VOD is taking off, massive ratings are being reported with growth in all aspects, 1 broadcaster declared its having 2 billion requests from end users a year for content another with a much, much smaller possible audience is reporting over a billion requests.

 

We are in a time where the handheld device is the final platform not the TV. Bandwidth for these devices will grow to speeds of basic cable packages as 4G gets up and running and the old TV Analogue system turns off freeing up frequencies for new options. 30mbs to a Smartphone or Tablet will be epic and open a whole new world of content availability to the end user. But will content availability be enough, If the last few years have shown us anything with the rise of the social networking monster, it’s that interactivity will be the key to not only reaching our audience but growing the potential audience, thus increasing brand awareness and market position and ultimately revenue.

 

 

In “normal” TV transmission you will have seen little graphics bars pop up at the bottom or top of the screen during a program telling you what’s on next or on a sister channel or perhaps directing you to a website, either way adding to the interactivity of that brand and trying to tow you along and stop you from leaving that channel/brand at the end of the show. This generally works but we are becoming numb to its charms. This is where social networking will, and in some cases has already, step in, building up on linear TV and connecting with VOD. Forcing broadcasters to look at how the popularity, or trend if you will, of a programme sweeps across the internet via twitter or Facebook. This biggest weapon for this right now is Zeebox, not only does it take on the role of an excellent live EPG, but it also connects to all your social network sites so your friends can see what you are watching and you them. Trending the popularity of a show so much that audience viewings grow or fail as social groups fall in line, whether to create a discussion point or whether to just feel part of a group. Another great trick of zeebox is it uses wifi to connect to your “Connected TV” or “Virgin TiVo” meaning it will change channel for you or open up that VOD  content (Virgin TiVo only as I understand for VOD)  but still a brilliant perk to a free app!

The import thing here is the trend setting power of this type of tool, depending on the mood of the current online social group it has the power to force a swing in ratings, one well-placed tweet and ratings spike and drop dramatically. What will this mean for revenue and programming?

One thing for sure is programming will have to become better again to fight for ratings as well as maintain them, with luck pushing the elimination of the cheap shows as their ratings trend reflect massive fails or “walk outs”

All this change caused by the humble EPG catching on with the social network bug. So what next? What would you like in your EPG? Console interaction? VOD schedules? Would be nice to have a search function on a smart EPG that searched all your subscribed VOD services and found your wanted program for you and could this be a step towards slowing piracy, I know it will never rid us of piracy, nothing ever will no matter how smart DRM, ISPs or Studios think they are, but it may reduce it?

 

Ben

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