Friday, 26 August 2011

How real is the death of linear TV?

With the growth of PVR devices and the increased use of on-demand services, the death of linear TV has been widely predicted for several years. These predictions seem to ring increasingly hollow, however. Recent research from the IHS Screen Digest TV Intelligence Service predicts that by 2015, non-linear content will still account for only 15 per cent of people’s viewing time in the USA. This is in line with several other recent surveys indicating that linear TV is still very popular with consumers and likely to remain so.

The digital switchover and the increased choice it offers, combined with the growth of HD and 3D content both play a part in this – even with fast broadband connections, reliable on-demand delivery of HD content still has a number of scalability issues to address. Another important factor is the effort required to find something suitable to watch: people who are in the mood to watch TV don’t like working for it.

Over time, the growth of high-speed broadband and innovations in user interfaces will undoubtedly improve the take-up of non-linear content. We can already see this beginning with Virgin Media’s Tivo service, where 25 per cent of all viewing is originating from search or other discovery mechanisms rather than from the EPG. As more people connect the different devices in their homes to share media, this will also encourage the consumption of non-linear content as the concept of finding content outside the home merges with finding content inside the home. Growing use of tablets and smartphones as companion devices for viewing content only drives this further: our recent announcement of ANT Galio Move as a companion device solution for Galio-enabled platforms shows that this is something we believe will be a major part of the way people consume content in the future.

Without a doubt, linear content still has the edge for viewers in terms of convenience, and this is a powerful force to overcome. On-demand content providers will make inroads, but “more of the same” will not be enough to tip the balance.

By Steve Morris

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