The Future of Broadcasting conference

There was quite a buzz at the Hallam Conference Centre in central London yesterday (25 June) as delegates and speakers gathered to debate the future of broadcasting.

The Knowledge attended the event, and here we bring you some of the highlights of the day.

After a brief meet and greet over coffee, the day got underway with the first speaker, CEO of UKTV Darren Childs, on the subject of ‘Ignore it at your peril, why the internet is fundamental to the future of broadcasting.’

He had just returned from Paris, and was clearly inspired by the city of romance. Childs presented the relationship between TV and the internet as a love affair, recounting the various stages of a relationship. The first stage of giddy infatuation being the birth of the internet, followed by the inevitable power struggle, as both sides test each other’s strengths.

Childs said this is followed by the real partnership stage, with compromises and renewed confidence. And lastly was the analogy to the commitment stage, which he illustrated with the example of tie-in deals, in particular by delivering the exclusive news that UKTV has just signed a deal with YouView.

Childs’ light tone and charming metaphor set the mood for the day – a great start. Some of his soundbites: “Content is king, and always will be”; “Real talent is rare and real talent is expensive”; “40% of Twitter traffic in prime time is people talking about TV.”

BSkyB commercial director Robert Webster was given the topic ‘Connecting content, technology and customers’. He outlined BskyB’s main focus when they started out: movies, news and sport, and said this still stands today. Webster used the examples of the dedicated Bond movie channel Sky Movies 007 – launching in the autumn – and the specialist cricket channel Sky Ashes.

He also announced that BskyB have recently invested in 70 hours of original drama, their biggest outlay to date.

Jonathan Allan, director of sales at Channel 4, spoke on ‘Surviving and thriving in the world of connected viewing.’ He said he believed there were three ages of TV, the first being the early days, when black and white sets were starting to become a household norm.

Allan said the second age was born with the advent of Channel 4 thirty years ago, with the third age being the current era of pay per view, VoD, bundles and downloading - what he called a “vibrant, dynamic TV world.” Allan concluded by saying we are living in the golden age of television.

Our favourite quotes of Allan’s included: “13,000 homes in the UK now have only a black and white TV licence”; “Half of us are on the internet while watching TV”; “Made in Chelsea is the most tweeted about TV show, despite getting significantly lower viewing figures than say, Britain’s Got Talent.”

Daniel Danker, chief product officer at Shazam, had the room chortling when he stated that he develops all new products with his elderly mother in mind. 325 million devices worldwide now have Shazam, with 10 million new users a month. His topic was ‘Fostering interactive experiences through mobile technology.’

The dynamic Danker said that although it is primarily known as a music product, 85% of those with Shazam also use it to interact with TV. He said that second screen users want simple, quick answers to their questions, and emphasised that 80% of mobile time is spent in apps, not browsers. Danker wrapped up by stressing that simplicity, relevance and flexibility are key to the second screen success formula.  

Michael Comish is CEO of Tesco Digital Entertainment, the second largest retailer of DVDs in the UK, whose theme was ‘Enabling content anytime, anywhere: the rise of OTT video.’ He began by saying that screen size is directly proportional to market size, and that television is going to become a massive shopping device. He remarked: “The internet has not yet had a meaningful impact on television”

After lunch, chief brands officer at BBC Worldwide Amanda Hill took the stand, and talked on building brands. She said that dinosaurs are the most popular TV subject for BBC Worldwide, as they have the key formula of fun, fear and facts.

Hill spoke of the global success of brands such as Walking with Dinosaurs, Top Gear and Doctor Who, all of which now come with sellout live shows and interactive events. Her pertinent quotes: “Audiences are more brand-fickle than ever before”; “Global is becoming a pre-requisite, not just an option.”

There were many other speakers, plenty of highlights, and lively panel discussions. We hope we have brought you a flavour of the event but would like to hear your views on the future of broadcasting - please get in touch via our Facebook page or leave your comments here.