Management / Rene Carayol: Why creating fabulous content is no longer enough

Rene Carayol: Why creating fabulous content is no longer enough

Like many lounges in the country, ours is becoming increasingly redundant, and the once fought-over sofa stands forlorn. This is because nobody watches the oversized flatscreen TV that’s still on the wall.

rene-199x300There was a time when friends and family would jockey for position to watch that blockbuster film or maybe Andy Murray at Wimbledon. Nowadays, the lounge never needs cleaning or tidying up, as we have all migrated to watching the content of our choice, where we want and when we want.

We are watching on desktops, tablets or mobiles, but rarely on TV. This is all driven by innovation; the latest gadgets provide viewers with an inherent flexibility and responsiveness that enables them to consume content in a manner that is way beyond what the traditional broadcasters can do. Traditional TV, because of its high quality, reliable scheduling and varied offerings, still attracts a large, but diminishing audience. The differing approaches have qualities that the other can learn from.

The advantage today still lies with the traditional broadcasters, but only just. While many have experimented and explored different methods and channels for taking their robust offerings to a more demanding and agile consumer, others are still hesitant. Especially as they are hindered by an inability to accurately measure advertising on these new devices. But doing nothing is a failsafe method of reaching oblivion – there is no risk-free option.

More people now watch YouTube on mobile than watch videos on any US cable network. According to Google’s CFO, Ruth Porat, total watch time on YouTube is up more than 60 per cent since the same quarter a year ago – and YouTube mobile watch time more than doubled in the same period. Strikingly, the average mobile YouTube viewing session is now more than 40 minutes, 50 per cent up on a year ago. In the second quarter this year, Google (YouTube’s owner) reported revenues of $17.7bn, 11 per cent up on last year.

The sudden shift from the certainty of TV schedules towards the uncertainty and diversity of the likes of YouTube threatens broadcasters and their advertisers alike. While Google is smiling ear to ear, “media owners are upset and advertisers are upset,” said Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of the world’s largest advertising group by sales, WPP.

By traditional measurement, TV audiences are falling in some key markets; by 3 per cent in the US and 5 per cent in the UK last year. But those ratings which have been the lifeblood for broadcasters when they commission programmes – and advertisers when they allocate spend – make no allowance for the huge boom in viewing of TV programmes on tablets and mobiles.

It is becoming very clear that no matter what the medium, broadcasters are going to have to adapt and evolve – it is no longer good enough to just create fabulous content, the challenge now is to create fabulous demand. And at the heart of all of this will be the ability to capitalise on the endless wave of new technology.

On-demand viewing has already smashed the status quo, with millions of people in their bedrooms with some version of an iPlayer, on a tablet or mobile, thoroughly enjoying themselves.

This doesn’t mean that they are all disconnected. They might even be more connected than the families who gather on the sofas in the lounge around the huge TV – with friends they really want to spend time with also locked away in their bedrooms, sometimes many miles away. The rather dashing, but necessary mind-set of “build it and they will come”, lends itself more readily to the start-up mentality than the culture of the incumbent.

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