Digital formats to shape future of media growth

Move to converge web and television will intensify in 2010, says Deloitte. Television producers are likely to create websites for quick feedback from viewers. (REUTERS)

Recession and economic downturn in 2009 and technological innovations in the recent past have formulated the growth of media in 2010 and for the future, said industry analysts.

They defined the shape of media and mass communication for this year.

In an annual prediction report titled, "Media Predictions 2010", Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu's Managing Partner Jolyon Barker stated: "Most of 2010's media predictions are focused on the consequence of technological change, particularly digitisation, and are shaped by 2010's economic outlook."

In an industry specific report, Deloitte, a global research and data analysing company, has revealed some very unorthodox turns and stressed the changes that will be seen this year are not temporary but here to stay and define the new structure of the media.

Commenting on the emergence of digital world over the analog, Barker commented in his summary of the special report: "This fundamentally simple transition – the conversion of analog data into digital form and its distribution via digital networks – not only changes the balance of power within the industry but can also reset the scope of other sectors."

Clearly defining the shape of things to come, the document released by DTT, stated: "DIT TMT predicts that in 2010, most videos and audio content will be consumed linearly – that is, according to broadcaster' programming schedules. Our estimate is that more than 90 per cent of all television watched and more than 80 per cent of all radio content consumed will be via traditional broadcast."

The report said: "Linear will prevail despite the proliferation of technologies, such as digital video recorders, pay-per-view, on-demand television, podcasts and online music services, all of which permit viewers and listeners to opt out of the broadcasters schedule."

Elie Khouri, Chief Executive Mena of Omnicom Media Group based in Dubai, said: "So far content was the king, but new technology is putting the reins in the hands of the consumer."

Believing the changes that are going to be binding on the future of media, Khouri voiced the same mood and feels that changes are here to stay, "for at least a decade, until a new platform or technology appears".

Khouri, in his assertive approach to handling the future, said in an interview with Emirates Business: "For the old guards it may be difficult to accept the change, but his change is binding and the only way to face the challenges that have emerged in the past 12-14 months of global recession."

Caution on technology

While the future may be defined by the technological innovations and emergence of new platforms, but the report cautions against the imposition of new technology. "The broadcast industry and equipment manufacturers should bear in mind that consumers do not necessarily embrace the options given to them by advances in technology," it said.

The media report said: "Advertisers should carefully analyse the various statistics regarding media consumption. If linear continues to dominate, concerns about ad-skipping on DVR's and the possible success of ad-free video on demand are likely overstated, while buying ads on conventional radio and television may remain more effective than some analysts are forecasting.

"Advertisers should not necessarily accept the common perception that television audiences are in long-term decline. In several mature markets, as well as most developing ones, broadcast television viewing is more likely to rise than decline."

Samar Sayegh, CEO of Decision Makers TV, operated from the Dubai Media City and broadcast to the entire Middle East, said: "While the developed markets are reacting differently to linear broadcast, areas such as the Middle East, that are growing fast and are part of the emerging markets, the reality is different.

"Video-on-demand may be growing at a fast pace, but the numbers are still very small and the concept in this part of the world is still at a very embryonic stage," responded Sayegh to the threat of ad-less broadcast.

The report brings to attention the psychological advantages of scheduled broadcasting, stating: "For many, the schedule is far from an inconvenience. In fact, the scheduler and the content timetable are fundamental threads of the social fabric in many societies. Despite the fragmentation of both television and radio sectors, programming remains a major source of discussion."

DIT TMT predicts that efforts to converge two of the biggest media distribution platforms – the web and TV – will intensify in 2010. By year end, more than 30 per cent of broadband-enabled households are likely to interact occasionally or regularly with what they are watching on television through some form of computing device.

"However, we anticipate that the most popular approach to delivering a converged web and television experience won't be technology enabled," said the authors of the report, adding: "Instead a more pragmatic approach is likely to dominate consumers. It is likely to fuse standard television sets with existing browser enabled devices, such as WiFi enabled laptops, netbooks, MP4 players and portable games consoles and smartphones. The convergence of television and the web will be driven by the user."

Researchers at DIT believe that attempts to move web-based content into televisions have been under way for many years in the past, but with little progress – so far. The most popular approach to achieve this convergence will be the rough but ready combination of standard television viewing and consumers' existing browser-based devices.

On convergence, the report said: "The blending of passive experience of television and the reactive elements of the web is likely to become a key phenomenon by the end of 2010. But the main agents of this fusion are likely to be the user, the content producer, and the advertisers rather than an integrated device."

In favour of the advertisers, the report said: "One of the major beneficiaries of increased simultaneous usage of the web and television may be advertising. In 2010, the global television advertising is expected to be worth $180 billion (Dh661bn), while global online advertising is projected at $63bn."

Commercials viewed on TV can direct viewers to websites. One traditionalist found that using online and television together resulted in 47 per cent more positivity about a brand than using either in isolation.

As simultaneous web and television use becomes more popular, the television producers should create websites that not only support programming, but also feed off viewers' eagerness to react to what they are watching, the report said.

Viewers can be directed to associated websites rather than surfing blindly looking for relevant information, it said.

Tie-in websites should be created for a range of devises (such as MP4 player, netbook or smartphone), not just a PC. Talent shows, for example, may offer the chance to rate participants and their judges as well as guess that week's contest results. Sports programming may provide relevant statistics. Documents are likely to offer ancillary information. All genres are likely to solicit viewers' feedback.

Video on vending machines

Industry pundits predict that 2010 should see strong growth of video-on-demand (VoD), although the technology behind this growth – the vending machine – may surprise.

As per the predictions in the report, volume and value of the DVDs distributed via vending machines will double this year, mostly due to additional capacity.

Stating the trend, the report specifies that by the end of 2010, an estimated 30,000 DVD vending machines will be deployed in the United States, each capable of holding up to 700 units and generating up to $50,000 a year.

But a futuristic approach to the subject reveals that despite significant investments in network-delivered VoD, at the end of 2009 the most commercially successful approach to self-service long-form video distribution was still a hybrid of web-based self-selection and postal delivery.

"Vending machines also face a growing challenge from streaming sites," said Danish Farhan, MD and CEO of Xische Studio.

"The format today is not very refined, but with broadband becoming a norm, the streaming facility and technology is bound to replace any exchange of hardcopies," said Farhan about the vendng machines.


The second part of this report will run in tomorrow's edition. Watch this space.

 

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