What does the future hold for television? Interview with DigitasLBi

By Chris Lee

At the recent 2013 MacTaggart lecture at the Guardian Edinburgh International Television festival, actor Kevin Spacey challenged the UK television industry to be more creative in the era of the Social Web. His award-nominated drama House of Cards was streamed on Internet film site Netflix made of 26 episodes.

“[15 years ago] the film industry didn’t believe that television would ever become its biggest competitor,” he said, citing Mad Men, True Blood, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and various other episodic dramas as evidence of the wealth of creativity in television.

“I wonder if you are – as I am – disappointed that this medium doesn’t always reach for the highest of excellence as much as it should, or could?” he added, believing we are in a “golden age” of television. “That’s what it’s always been about – emerging talent. I’m disappointed. Disappointed this industry doesn’t do more to support new talent. Things are changing and changing fast. Kids aren’t growing up with a sense of television as the aspirational place for their ideas.”

Internet killed the video star?

Traditional television channels still draw the majority (90%) of TV content viewers and is still the preferred channel for advertisers , according to Nielsen. Mobile viewing of television content via iPads, mobiles or laptops only accounts for three minutes and 30 seconds of content viewing each day, according to The Guardian, so most people still watch TV content at the time of broadcast.

TV “on life support”

According to Simon Gill, executive creative director at global marketing and technology agency DigitasLBi, the video consumption is fragmented and users will ultimately be drawn to channels providing the best content.

“Broadcast TV as we know it is on life support. It’s being kept alive only by big live audience involvement programs like X-Factor, Big Brother and the big live sporting events,” he told NMK. “These shows still benefit from the cost effective radio wave broadcast that delivers at scale. However Red Bull’s jump from space as broadcast on YouTube held up well and points the way to it being a reality for an entire viewing nation before long.”

Outside of these live spectaculars, Gill believes PVRs (personal video recorders), on-demand services like Netflix and community video such as YouTube have put viewing is under the control of the viewer.

“When, where, what: we decide and the Internet is what’s making it possible,” he added. “The winners will be those with the best content, the easiest to use and best overall experience. For example, Sky does a great job at packaging up its services and apps to charge a high monthly fee, but it would be nothing without its exclusive content. Through its rich database of user analytics, Netflix is able to make measured bets with its Netflix Originals content that will soon provide genre and audience specific shows that become talking points.”

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