Media Redefined: The future of TV is live
by Martin MacGregor (@MartMacG) There are two kinds of people in the world, those who approach problems from A-Z and those who start somewhere in the middle, and then jump around forwards and backwards. The result is usually the same, although, being an A-Z person myself, I always suspect that the more-random approach leads to a better quality outcome. I don’t understand how these people work but I am secretly jealous!
Linear vs non-linear viewing
TV viewing habits have settled into two similarly distinct camps as well. Linear viewing, or watching content live as it’s presented, or non-linear viewing, watching at time suitable to the viewer, not the broadcaster, with the ability to stop and start at a whim.
What’s consistent with both is that the “anywhere” no longer matters; both are watched on the big screen in the lounge, the laptop in bed or on the phone in the taxi. This distinction is around time and timing.
One of the favourite topics of conversation at the moment is about whether or not your DStv subscription has been cancelled. I’ve had a few incredulous looks when I state uncategorically that I’ve not cancelled and for me it’s worth every cent. This is because it depends on what you enjoy. I am a news junkie and love sport and, right now, DStv more than satisfies this appetite. I’m a part-time series-watcher, so whatever it offers is a bonus.
TV’s main pull
I think this has always been TV’s main pull — the ability to deliver live content, and package and unpack it in a way that maximises interest. When TV started, that’s what it was. Movies (the series of today) belonged in the movie house. The interesting shift that’s happening in the “live” space is that it’s no longer owned by the traditional broadcasters.
The recent announcement by Facebook that it had secured the broadcast rights to Barclays Premier League games in parts of Asia really shifts things. Social media platforms have always considered themselves as the new broadcasters and this really hits home the point.
The interesting next step for Facebook is how it tackles news. The recent debate around its independence seems to point to a similar approach to a DStv, where it is just the neutral platform for a wide range of news outlets — from eNCA to the now-defunct ANN7. I don’t think it will become a news provider itself.
What’s undeniable is the pull a live event has and its ability to attract very large audiences. Whether it’s a Springbok/All Black test match or watching US judicial Senate Hearings on CNN, there’s something incredibly intriguing in watching content that’s unpredictable and the outcome unknown to anyone.
The definition of what TV is shifts constantly but I think its essence has always been, and will always be, the live product. Where and on what it’s viewed is really immaterial.
Martin MacGregor (@MartMacG) is managing director of Connect, an M&C Saatchi Company, with offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Martin has spent 18 years in the industry, and has previously worked at Ogilvy and was MD of MEC Nota Bene in Cape Town. He contributes the monthly “Media Redefined” column, in which he challenges norms in the media space, to MarkLives.com.
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