What do you see as the digital future?
5 years out – Explosion in cheap consumer products that theoretically allows you to have digital content “anytime, any place anywhere”. Network architecture that doesn’t. Spectrum sale warms up. Computer gaming continues to grow as the pastime for teenagers. Convergence of electronic products is the norm. Fracturing of channels accelerates with growth in “online only” broad/pod/vod/IPcasters. Sky and BT merge. IPTV starts to be seen as a viable distribution model. Mainstream broadcasters content struggles to compete with online user generated content and consumers find access to content not an issue but finding the time to watch it the constraint. Branding imperative to “tag” your content, as people may well consume it without ever using your delivery vehicle. Standards and DRM come to the fore as delivery companies try to tie you into their preferred platform. Mobile delivery considered to be the next big thing (and this time we mean it!)
10 years out – Network architecture catches up. Sky/BT have their 21st Century Network in place, the BBC is delivering digital-only content (Except for FM still!) and shooting everything in HD – so is everyone else – network architecture falls behind again. Those who bought the freed up spectrum try to sweat every bit of content for as much revenue as possible to get a return on investment. Online archive of past week’s linear broadcast available on-demand and can be streamed as live. Channels fracture some more as IPTV allows for thousands of channels. Spectrum no longer the scarce resource, so BBC’s Unique Selling Point is primarily it’s quality. Mobile delivery considered to be the next big thing (and this time we mean it! No, really we do!)
20 years out – Network architecture catches up. Online archive of past year’s linear broadcast available on-demand and can be streamed as live. Ultra High Definition on the horizon – network architecture falls behind again. Mobile delivery considered to be the next big thing (and this time we mean it! No really we do! You just watch!)
Will bandwidth limits and contention be a thing of the past?
Nope. Just as 1 Gb of RAM 20 years ago would have been preposterous, so too will Gigagbit Ethernet be preposterously slow in 20 years time, and network architecture can never escape the contention conundrum as it will always be a victim of it’s own success.
Will content be delivered by IP, will we all be watching it on the move?
Is linear broadcasting heading towards a thing of the past?
No, it’s too good a delivery and advertising model. It’s just going to have to compete harder for the prime time audience in 2016 of 1 million people and then be a feeder system to the online/on-demand model.
Will the digital age be one of ones and noughts – a world of digital haves and, the maybe forgotten, didgital have-nots?
It will be an age where being a “digital have-not” will be a conscious/lifestyle choice. Just as reading and writing today are considered basic skills, so too digital literacy will be the norm for the primary school attendee. Today, you can buy a bare bones PC for c. £100. By 2016 not having a PC/Multimedia appliance and not being connected to the Internet will be a choice.
We are the BBC, what do we think the content access landscape will be?
I think people fundamentally want to be informed, educated and entertained – you will have linear, online and on-demand (locally or centrally stored) access via a variety of platforms – TV, PC, Games consoles, Radio, Satellite, IPTV, mobile, etc – and you can populate all the delivery architectures with your content but if no one thinks it’s worth watching – then you are spam!
Where are our leaders heads – in real blue sky, or in the clouds?
I think they have an idea of where the industry is heading but lots of things (network architecture being the most obvious) are outside their control.
How do you see the future and the challanges and the stumbling blocks?
The future is exciting. The two biggest challenges will be over-regulation and funding. Relying on others to deliver our content to our standards will be a major stumbling block, as will the ability to be a universal (on all platforms in all formats) “broadcaster”.