UK: Set Schedules To Subscriptions: How TV Viewing Is Changing Every Day

Last Updated: 8 July 2014
Article by Oliver Bowley

Most Read Contributor in UK, August 2017

We've all been there – finishing the latest episode of our favourite programme knowing all too well that we've got to wait another week until we find out 'who-done-it'. In today's world, waiting for things is becoming rarer and rarer.

The Internet is lightning quick, waiting days on end for delivery of online purchases has become a thing of the past and you'll struggle to find a teenager who can remember the sound of a dial-up modem connecting. So it's no surprise then that we're getting fed up of waiting all evening for our programme to start.

Television programmes used to follow schedules, with dedicated teams poring over viewing statistics to make sure the most popular programmes were aired during prime time, with advertising weaved strategically in-between. On-demand television is changing all of this. Where consumers used to pay a licence fee, they are now paying for access to specific content. Consumers are getting tired of waiting for programmes, choosing instead to pay for access to groups of content and viewing them when it is convenient for them.

The last couple of years have seen massive growth in the industry, with new offerings entering a market that was previously dominated by a few channels. On-demand viewing in the UK is growing at about 25% year on year and the market has now become a battleground for winning customers. Where broadcasters used to provide different channels, each with their own type of programme, consumers now expect everything to be available, all the time. Being able to view content on multiple devices, combined with improved Internet speeds and wider availability of Wi-Fi, has meant that we can now make the most of commutes, waiting rooms and everywhere else where we used to have idle time. This wouldn't be possible with the old model of following television schedules and subscribing to channels.

Given the changing landscape then, how will it affect broadcasters? The BBC provides an interesting example. The BBC already generates huge revenues from selling its content overseas but with the Royal Charter for TV licensing up for review in 2017 we may well see it joining the UK on-demand market in the future. The BBC has a reputation for creating engaging and relevant programmes to suit the needs of the market it serves, which may help differentiate it against existing on-demand providers who have tended to act as providers of existing programmes rather than creators. This is changing though and the success of Netflix's House of Cards (amongst others) is proof that the market is ever expanding, making for a fresh set of challenges for even the most established television companies.

The move to on-demand television obviously represents opportunities and challenges for broadcasters and online streaming specialists, but it is also changing the way that advertising is used. There are currently several different models: YouTube style short clips before viewing, traditional advert breaks, advertising within apps and, finally, product placement. Advertisers are even creating content to rival traditional broadcasters, showing that the two industries are becoming ever more intertwined.

On-demand television is already hugely successful, and it's clear why. Traditional television channels haven't disappeared though, and it will be an interesting few years as we see what the big channels do to keep their hard earned customers.

Deloitte thought leadership on the TV industry

Media Consumer Survey 2014: The digital divide
TMT Predictions: Doubling up on pay TV
What Television is: An industry of industries

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