Last night I had the pleasure of attending the BAFTA Annual Television Lecture. The guest speaker, Armando Iannucci the creator of The Thick Of It and Veep, gave a lecture entilted 'Fight, fight, fight' which I think accurately sums up the situation that broadcasters now find themselves in.
What became clear during the course of the discussion was that the television has faced and still faces huge change and upheaval. What were clear and obvious decisions no longer are. Television is entering a period not dissimilar from the one that music found itself in. A period where the future of funding and revenue sources are questioned, where viewer habits are rapidly changing and where platforms are in a constant state of flux.
Armando posed the argument that the world hasn't changed to much and what is still most important is to 'make good programs' - at which point it was questioned whether all broadcasters had this motive. He argued that although there has been a change in platforms and the home television not longer sits in sole supremacy that wherever you consume content you do so via the same rectangle and the user cares about is what happens in that rectangle.
In my eyes it's more complex than that. Of course content is king as the web well knows but these different platforms do have some fundamentally conflicting consumption habits. My iPhone which I'll use on the bus, the tube, in the waiting room or anywhere when I'm on the go is not the place to consume a 45 minute long drama epic.
Similarly my laptop is home to my games, my social networks and my internet browser. These are all non-passive forms of consumption where my engagement decide what is happening on the screen. I am the scheduler of my content but also the master of it. It's not simply about broadcasters choosing to allow you to watch what you want when you want it. It's about letting you engage and interact with what you watch - letting you the audience be the programmer as well as the scheduler.
Therefore admittedly my generation and the even more tech savy one beneath that has the expectation of viewing what they want, where they want and how they want have not killed television but they have forced it into a metamorphosis. Broadcasters needs to begin adapting to a world where platform specific commissioning could become the norm and where a google of TV could allow users to never have to directly interface with a channel.
Both the risks and benefits of these change are great. Play the game properly, build a broad array of cater that specifically caters to a new world and the enhanced interactivity, social sharing and peer recommending it offers could drive new revenue streams and viewing figures.
The hardest part is getting it right.