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Conference Analysis: What future for news?

13 September 2014

Vice News, BuzzFeed, MailOnline: all internet-based information sites that claim to attract the ‘connected’ generation. Can established news networks like CNN, Sky News, Euronews or the BBC keep pace with these new entrants? Can they evolve to try and seduce a younger audience?

Former director of BBC News Richard Sambrook hit the nail on the head during ‘The Future of News’ conference sessions chaired by director of international TV and Media Consulting David Lowen: “These new entrants are
posing real challenges to the traditional broadcasters. In the age when the consumer can get what he wants, the constraints of linear broadcasters are becoming a liability. ”

As the average age of the TV network news viewer in the United States is over 60, the prospect of losing increasing advertising revenue to Vice News or BuzzFeed is one the established networks are struggling to avoid. Greg Beitchman, the VP of content and partnership of CNN International, admitted as much: “The key question is how do you stay relevant to audiences who are on mobile devices?”

For Nick Hern, COO of Sky News, the change in audience viewing habits is positive: “It has enabled journalists to create stories and put them in front of people in ways that did not exist before. People can really indulge their appetite for news. The negative side is that there is a time-lag between the introduction of innovative ways of covering news and getting advertisers to follow you.”

The networks are studying new options to attract wider audiences and save costs, for instance airing longer format documentary style news or replacing the night news shift by a VOD service. But will it
be enough?

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