Last night I attended a talk at the University of Salford organised by the Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers (SMPTE) on the role of apps and on-demand in the future of TV. Bill Scott of EaselTV was the speaker, setting out his business’ vision of what TV could and should look like now that broadcasters and media companies have the capability to deliver on-demand alongside live events and new releases of popular programmes.
Currently we are all still wedded to the model established prior to on-demand delivery, of linear TV schedules. On-demand is delivered as an add-on to this, either by directing the user to a separate on-demand platform (BBC iPlayer, 4OD) or via a backwards EPG which tells viewers: “Missed a favourite show? Well, look for it on the schedule to watch again.”
In Bill’s brave new world of television scheduling, live TV will of course still hold specific time slots, but all other new releases will be available for longer segments of time, much the way that films are out in cinemas for several weeks. So what you’ll receive on your TV when you switch it on, is major live events, trailers combining all the recent new releases that you can choose to dive in to when you see a programme you want to watch, and older on-demand offerings based on your user habits and personalisation choices.
The model Bill showed to the audience looked a bit to me like, sigh, in-flight entertainment. But Bill feels that the distinguishing factors of personalisation and live events raise his vision of TV utopia well above this. And the benefits aren’t just for the viewers. TV advertising has inefficiency baked in, says Bill, with ads played out for anyone and everyone who happens to be in front of the TV, whether the product is relevant to them or not.
Ads delivered in a non-linear and personalised TV space can target consumers, allowing them to choose ads as a special event and find out more. Bill demo-ed one of his firm’s projects, a 27-minute film about a mobile phone brand with high-spec camera capabilities. The film was commissioned for a three-month run and this was extended to nine months due to its success. ‘Dwell time’ per customer was 18 minutes – pretty impressive given that the whole ad/film lasted 27 minutes.
The other efficiency comes to media companies. There are hundreds of TV channels in the UK (Sky delivers 600+ via its EPG), all with schedules to fill. If you slim this down to a rolling film of the best content at one time for each channel, is anyone really a loser?
SMPTE’s next meeting in the North is on February 12 at the University of Salford. Hope to see you there.
You can follow EaselTV’s Bill Scott on Twitter @BillJScott