For years if not decades, media businesses have been talking about creating an individual’s own personal TV channel, filled with the shows that they want to watch at the times they want to watch them.
A few innovators have done a brilliant job of leading us into that future. Netflix, Amazon and their ilk have put a huge range of content at viewers’ fingertips, built algorithms to continually suggest new and more relevant programmes to viewers, and, of course, made it available to viewers anywhere and at any time, as long as they have an internet connection. Technology and high bandwidth internet connectivity has made the personal TV channel possible! The only thing holding it back is the tangle of licensing agreements that tie shows to a particular release window, provider or region of the world. A consumer with the budget and patience could sign up for all and easily curate their own channel of on demand TV.
They’d be missing one vital piece though: live events. Traditional broadcasters pay huge sums of money for the sole rights to broadcast sporting events: In the UK, Sky and BT recently paid £5.136 bn for rights to show British Premier League football while Twitter is attempting to break the streaming video market by broadcasting NFL games through its platform. The reasoning is simple: sporting events represent live, communal events not just for the fans at the venue, but potentially all fans watching it. They’re a moment in time that viewers want to be a part of, and lose their magic if watched time shifted or on demand. That leads to large and instant audiences. Sports events are just the reliably scheduled tip of the iceberg of ‘moment in time’ events. They span everything from concerts to moon landings, things you just had to be there for. Events sometimes so profound they evoke the “I remember where I was and what I was doing when it happened” type emotions.
Every person has a different definition of what constitutes a moment in time, however. I’m OK not seeing the FA Cup final, but if the New York Philharmonic’s performing, I want to be able to see that. Today, that New York Philharmonic performance probably won’t be available to me on my TV screen. Until it is, we haven’t really reached the holy grail of the personalised TV channel.
It is one that we can reach however. I’m guessing in 5 years, events will be the only thing watched live. Pre-recorded shows will all be consumed via some form of on demand watching. We’re on our way to going beyond ‘big audience, now’ scheduling to delivering singular live streams to viewers whenever and wherever they want. That will mean that I can decide I want to see that concert and have it streamed to me, even if no one else has requested it, even better, how good would it be to have your son or daughter’s game or recital streamed to you? So, despite ever increasing time at work, you can still be there when travel plans wouldn’t otherwise permit it.
These events, nestled amongst the on-demand TV shows you’re box-setting, are the missing piece that will create a truly personal TV channel for each of us. A programming library that goes from the latest TV show to the big game in your favourite sport, to the slightly more niche band that only a few other people would have seen, to the family event that’s streamed just for you. Live, unique and completely personal. That’s the step that will transform our TV experience. And this move from broadcast to a personalized uni-cast channel is just another driver of bandwidth growth for the future.
How do you see viewing experiences changing in the future? Let us know in the comments below.