TV, tablet and cloud, the perfect partners as broadcast and broadband collide

Emerging themes from Tomorrow Calling, a journey into the future of media.

It seems our love of telly shows no sign of abating.

UK commercial TV trade body, Thinkbox, recently reaffirmed this passion reporting that the average amount of TV watched in the UK each day has hit a new high of four hours and three minutes. If a person sleeps on average for seven hours, then that equates to a whopping quarter of the remaining day watching TV – and that’s not even taking work into account!

While linear TV remains the powerhouse behind our habit, the ever-growing proliferation of platforms and devices for both live and on demand viewing means we have more and more ways to ensure we get our TV fix.

I read with interest that Channel 4 recently revealed its 4OD viewing figures for the first time, registering over 9 million views across platforms for July 2011. This clearly shows that the UK is entering a phase of maturity in the VOD market.

Looking internationally, film and TV video streaming site Netflix is the biggest source of internet traffic in the US, according to recent research from Sandvine. In March Netflix accounted for 29.7% of all downstream internet traffic at peak times in the US, and even at off peak times Netflix accounted for a 22% average traffic share. Despite yesterday’s news that Netflix has cut its domestic subscriber forecast by one million users, there is still a clear demand for VOD not just in the UK and US but around the world.

Backing this trend up, online video now generates more broadband traffic globally than any other category of broadband usage according to Cisco who also predicted that by 2013, video content will account for 90% of all online traffic.

Clearly there’s a huge demand and appetite for great content and that’s definitely not changed. It’s now more about HOW people access that great content that’s dramatically changing. And this, in turn means that broadcasters, content owners and brands have to rethink how they distribute and monetise their content beyond the linear TV space. Connected TVs, apps, tablets and social media are just a few of the powerful forces opening up extraordinary opportunities and challenges.

To identify how the industry at-large can best prepare and make the most of these changes, Red Bee Media has launched Tomorrow Calling, a programme of discovery into the future of media. The programme is well under way and the key trends to be debated are beginning to emerge.

Smartphones have already had a significant impact on the media market and will become more important as faster mobile broadband develops during the next 3-5 years. However, most industry participants believe that tablets will have more significant impact, becoming mass market by 2020.

The industry remains confident that broadcasting will remain central, despite the proliferation of IP connectivity across the market. However, there is a strong consensus that cloud-based offerings and in-home media storage will transform the market during the next 10 years, creating new options for distributing, consuming and interacting with content.

Our industry as a whole is confident that long-term technology trends will strengthen and improve the television viewing experience – better and bigger screens, new viewing technologies like super HD and 3D, and connectivity will make the television viewing experience even better

It appears our love of telly is what is on it, not necessarily of the box itself. The TV is set to radically evolve, hooked-up to the internet to bring exciting new functionality. The tablet could be the perfect partner to the TV, out-doing mobile devices. Cloud and in-home storage are likely to further complement the traditional model.

Drawing this together, consensus is that our broadcasting infrastructure will persist through to 2020 – however, it will increasingly be complemented by IP-based delivery over the open internet. As broadcasting and broadband collide, we’ll see even more new and exciting opportunities and challenges for the industry. There’s no doubt about it. Existing platforms may be relatively ‘sticky’, supported by great content and innovative new services, but new offerings are set to proliferate – there will be surprises along the way.

The first live panel debate, ‘Networks, Platforms and Devices: how will the media market evolve through to 2020?’ takes place on Tuesday 27th September from 5.30pm to 7pm. To watch live online register at

Stella Medlicott, Chief Marketing Officer