IBC’s ‘The Future is Now’ opening session managed to draw a near-capacity audience to the Forum, where the panelists delivered plenty of headline news.
First up was Dubai-based pay-TV operator OSN’s CEO David Butorac who said that despite the challenges of piracy in his region, and fierce competition from the 750 or so local free-to-air channels, OSN was working hard to expand its 59 HD channels and would launch its first 4K/Ultra-HD channel early next year.
Fran Unsworth (director, BBC World Service) told moderator Ray Snoddy that the BBC’s plans to expand programming to Russia and to add services for Korea were both subject to government funding approvals.
“They can only happen with government cash, and will not come from licence fees. Our challenge at World Service is to remain prominent despite the explosion in new media. We have to cope with governments and regimes that deliberately block us. We also have to have enough cash to serve our listeners and viewers. But we are also asking ourselves whether we should now move away from transmitted radio and concentrate on phone or tablet delivery?”
Phillip Luff, MD for the UK and EMEA at Scripps Networks Interactive, stressed to delegates that they were expanding, and fast, into the UK (where they are 50/50 partners with BBC Worldwide in the 10-channel suite of Gold and Living services) and more recently acquiring the TVN bundle of pay and free channels in Poland. “The sky is not falling for us.”
However, countering these enthusiasts for broadcasting was Google’s Thomas Riedl (head of global Android TV partnerships) who told delegates that new paradigms were emerging, and today’s viewers recognised their stars from YouTube. “The second most queried question on YouTube is ‘Minecraft’ where many users were perfectly happy to watch other fans playing the game. Number 8 on the list is the amazingly popular ‘Grumpy Cat’ who has now written books and has a film in production.”
Riedl argued that Android’s methodology of delivering simple access to multiple devices, whether phones, tablets and TVs was increasingly important to content producers, and could not be ignored.