Advanced Television

EY: Fundamental changes needed to future-proof broadcasters

August 21, 2014

By Colin Mann

According to consultancy firm EY, for almost a century, the UK television industry has been transforming and renewing itself continually to meet ongoing shifts in technology, demand and society. But today, the forces at play are so disruptive they may throw into doubt the very notion of ‘television’ as a distinct medium. Speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival, the firm, a major sponsor at the event, warns broadcasters to drive fundamental operational changes in order to be prepare for the future.

“Broadcasters need to do more than react to today’s challenges,” advises Martin Holyoake, EY Media & Entertainment Partner. “Audiences are increasingly assuming the role of editor over their own media choices — and the implications that this shift brings is significant for the way content is sourced, produced, distributed and consumed.”

“Put simply, there’s never been a more exciting time to be in the UK television industry, or a more uncertain one. An ever-expanding array of channels, platforms, devices, experiences and choice has created a world where the viewer is firmly in control. For the industry, such an unprecedented state of flux inevitably creates a mix of risk and opportunity – giving rise to uncertainty and excitement in equal measure,” he suggests.

EY proposes five steps for broadcasters to prepare for the future of TV:

  1. Place the audience at the centre
    Audiences will look for content on their own terms, so it should be at the centre of the distribution model. To reach the audience wherever it wants to be found, and via whatever device, requires an optimised and tightly managed digital supply chain. This is vital for providing insight into what content or content rights are held, and how this content can be distributed to the audience at the point, time and place of need.
  2. Take a more efficient approach to production and sourcing
    Intensifying competition for content demands a more efficient approach than ever to production and sourcing. Content production is strategic as well as a creative process. In our experience, savings of between 15%-20% can be made in production through challenging entrenched processes and bringing techniques such as LEAN to content production. This can be re-invested in better, or more on-screen content.
  3. Innovate through cross-media content
    When audiences become part of the content, they cease to be passive voyeurs and become active participants. Thiskind of cross-platform experience is increasingly important in shaping the story arch for content – with companion experiences, synchronous activity and dual screening rising rapidly. Exploring ways to engage audiences at different times in the lifecycle can result in greater impact with the audience. In our experience, cross-platform engagement can result in an uplift of at least 25% audience impact.
  4. Understand your friends and foes
    The traditional structure of the UK television industry is in unprecedented flux. New channels, new OTT players and new producers are looking to gain a foothold. All the major US studios are here – and they’re now being joined by a raft of new entrants. Within this shifting ecosystem, companies need to take a close and careful look at partnering opportunities as they present themselves. Searching successfully for the right collaborative tie-ups may mean looking beyond the usual suspects.
  5. Make it personal

    Major generational and behavioural shifts – enabled by technology – have created new consumption patterns as audiences are freed from traditional viewing constraints. From a consumer’s point of view, a provider’s ability to deliver a seamless, personalised user experience is a fundamental differentiator. And for providers themselves, it is a way to add value to the audience and ultimately retain viewers. A personalised experience demands a firm grasp of data – specifically data needs to be aggregated to create a single, unified view of each member of the audience, the availability of data needs to be democratised so that it is no longer housed within the marketing department and reporting needs to be shift from retrospective to future predictions.

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