I was at the Future of Broadcasting Conference earlier today and
saw presentations by some industry big hitters including Jeremy
Darroch, CEO at Sky, Cindy Rose, Executive Director, Digital
Entertainment at Virgin Media, Daniel Danker, General Manager,
Programmes and On-Demand at the BBC and Ben McOwen Wilson, Director
of Content Partnerships at YouTube.
It was a good morning filled with stats, ideas and declarations
of strategic intent. Here are some of the notes I made:
- NOW TV - Sky's new OTT service - would be launching in
- NOW TV would initially carry movies but, in time, would add
entertainment and sports content including Premier League
- Sky currently spends £2.2bn a year on content; promises to
spend £600m a year on UK content by 2015 ("We've done a lot with
our cost base and better back-office efficiencies mean that we can
make a greater investment in content");
- In answer to a question about whether Sky would carry BT's
recently-bought roster of 38 Premier League games (starting in the
2013 - 2014 season) Darroch said that he was open-minded and that
Sky was an "open-access channel".
- Additionally, Sky Sports had "never been in better shape" with
its mainstays of golf, football, rugby and cricket coverage. "Only
20% of sprts viewing is Premier League football".
- Finally, Darroch strongly defended Sky when asked about OFCOM's
investigation into whether Rupert Murdoch was a "fit and proper
person" to own a broadcast licence saying Sky was independently run
and governed, that its brand metrics had actually gotten stronger
over the past two years and that Sky was a forward-looking company:
"We want to do more, invest more in content, create more jobs, pay
- "We were confident about TiVo[before the rollout started] but
were a bit concerned about whether customers would get it - the
entertainment landscape was becoming increasingly complex and
- "Discoverability and curation would be the keys to cracking the
user experience and TiVo gave us the tools to do that."
- Related to this, TiVo was changing the way people watch TV. The
new EPG was visited 37 times a week compared to 25 times a week for
the legacy system and 85% of EPG searches are for TV shows
not in the BARB top 50.
- Rose said that Virgin Media is now the "fastest-growing pay-TV
service in the UK… installing a new TiVo customer every 30 seconds…
adding 250,000 customers each quarter."
- Virgin Media has an exciting roadmap and that it had opened up
its TiVo APIs to allow over 40 apps to be created.
- Finally, that the company had spent £1.5bn on connectivity last
year and this had "allowed a thousand flowers to bloom". For every
£1 VM invest "£5 of value is added to the UK digital economy".
Danker announced a new role for the BBC Red Button in
integrating online and linear TV. An accompanying blog post provides all of the
In summary, the Red Button is to become "connected". As Danker
"Imagine you're watching Eastenders and realise you missed
the previous episode. Press Red and instantly bring up iPlayer to
catch up on the episode you missed.
Or you're watching a cooking programme and you see a recipe
you'd like to try. Press Red, save it for later and access the
recipe on your computer, tablet or mobile when you're ready to
With a wealth of content at our fingertips, Connected Red
Button seamlessly brings together broadcast and online television.
Audiences will be able to experience this first-hand during the
Olympics, where they'll be able to watch 24 live channels, in HD,
available exclusively online but delivered to the TV in a way that
blends the media and makes the technology truly
Ben McOwen Wilson