Please, can we get some perspective on industry numbers?
It was a busy Tuesday at Thinkbox towers last week – as well as telling us why, in their humble opinion, Netflix spent $100m on House of Cards, they also released the latest linear TV broadcast figures – and very happy reading they made for them as well.
According to the figures, total TV viewing in the home for 2012 was at four hours and one minute – a minute down on last year but 27 minutes up on 2002… do you remember 2002? That was the year Apple started to become the company it is today having just launched the iPod in November 2001. Is that a very comparable landscape? We’ve had a lot of change in the consumer technology landscape since then.
Thinkbox also reported that non-TV devices (including laptops and PC’s) accounted for three minutes of TV viewing a day. Hold on, just three minutes a day? That doesn’t sound right. Especially when you consider that C4’s Jonathan Allen was recently quoted by the Financial Times (Friday 18th Feb) stating that ‘Skins’ and ‘Made in Chelsea’ both achieved higher viewing numbers through its on-demand internet service than it did via terrestrial broadcasts.
Equally, whilst the industry will dismiss my own viewing habits because I work in media/advertising and live and work inside the M25, I am pretty sure my household alone must be genuinely responsible for one of those three minutes.
The press release also mentions that the findings include figures from BBC iPlayer. Again this surprises me. Stats from BBC iPlayer indicate that daily programme requests (TV) averaged over 4million a day across the whole of 2012 – although those programmes may only be three minutes long I suppose…
But my irritation isn’t directed at Thinkbox. When you are owned by C4, ITV, Sky, Turner and UKTV, it’s your job to promote the sale of commercial TV – it pays your wages after all. No, what irritates me is the fact the stats were reported far and wide without anyone challenging their accuracy.
Much like buyers exercise a healthy cynicism over publishers numbers we should, as an industry, demand some interrogation of all trade body stats. If the numbers stack up to scrutiny then we have a better idea of where we stand.
Clearly the linear TV industry in the UK is as strong as ever and on the new technology front most of the broadcasters are putting plans in place to develop their off-TV output. But with a lack of clarity or transparency around new technology consumption metrics, there is a natural hesitancy for the industry to gauge progress, regardless of user behaviour.
As a consumer, both ITV and C4 let me down with their on-demand products. They’re not available on Panasonic CTV’s or Apple TV, equally neither of their iOS applications will let me download programmes for consumption at my own leisure. The end result is that both broadcasters make up less than 5% of my viewing time and equally, I miss out on new promotions and further engagement with their services.
Obviously other people have different viewpoints, different usage behaviours and use different products. But I think the majority of people can relate to the BBC and their policy of making content available across as many devices and platforms as possible. As a result they are a clear market leader and see considerable, and sustained, growth in TV (and radio) on-device viewing.
It’s pretty unusual in any market for a state sponsored participant to be at the forefront of technological advances. And I fear that the commercial broadcast market is leaving itself wide open to further market disruption and new entrants based on technological advances.
So I’m asking for more perspective please on blindly reporting headline stats – not to denigrate any particular media but to actually keep driving our overall industry forward, push our successful incumbents to innovate and ensure we are better placed for technological advances.