Leaders look to the future

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Viewers across Europe are increasingly demanding personalised content wherever they are and on whatever devices they own. This is according to new research by IBM Global Business Services, unveiled yesterday at the IBC Leaders’ Summit.

The invitation-only audience of senior communication industry executives also heard that a considerable majority of industry professionals – 67% – now believe that non-linear and over the top (OTT) viewing volumes will surpass those of linear broadcasting within five years.

A smaller percentage, but still a clear majority, also think that non-linear revenues will overtake linear over the same period.

Such powerful trends, combined with the drive towards personalisation in particular, will, according to IBM, require the broadcasting industry to respond with strategies for personalisation.

“A new set of skills, capabilities and partnerships will be required to deliver this,” the senior executives were told.

Significant numbers produced by the research project covering the main European countries include: 79% expect to watch more downloaded content in the future; 32% want to control their viewing times; and 42% say they actually prefer targeted advertising. In addition, 68% said they were already watching programmes on their smartphones and tablets.

Later, when questioned by broadcaster Andrew Neil, who chaired the Summit, IBM said that smartphone and tablet viewers were watching for half an hour a day on average – a fraction of the time spent with linear television.

The delegates were also told about how OTT operator Netflix is likely to face growing competition as broadcasters such as HBO launch their own services. Netflix has a great brand and enjoyed great first mover advantage but broadcasters were beginning to wake up to the dangers of selling on their intellectual property to an increasingly powerful rival.

“For every dollar that Netflix makes in the US, it loses a dollar overseas,” one senior broadcaster claimed.

Other speakers emphasised that Netflix had one huge enduring advantage: the vast amount of data it obtained on the programme preferences of its subscribers, which enabled the company to individually target viewing recommendations.

This is the fifth Leaders’ Summit, and the largest so far. The audience is made up of senior executives from media companies from around the world. Their discussions are behind closed doors and not attributable, allowing the leaders of the industry to discuss critical issues off the record.

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