TV and web convergence close

David Hart
David Hart
In Codegent College
20th July 2011
TV and web convergence

The worlds of TV and the internet were once quite separate but now seem increasingly converged. We can easily watch TV on our computers using tools like iPlayer and 4OD and even stream TV live to your mobile phone using services such as Slingbox. And you can send content from your computer to your TV through AppleTV or just plug your computer into one of the inputs of your TV and use your remote to flick between the TV and your computer.

But this is really only the start. This is the convergence equivalent to humans inventing the wheel. 

We see the future of TV convergence being more than TVs having an Ethernet port on their back so they can plug straight into the internet. We see convergence as meaning platforms become nothing to do with the kind of content that you can get, but more about the use case for accessing content on that device.

So everyone will watch TV on their TV sets, their computers, their tablets and their mobiles. But your reasons for watching content on a TV might be different to why you would watch on a mobile: TV might be about getting a high quality experience that you possibly share with friends or family, whilst a mobile might be for getting quick bites of information whilst on the move.

In effect, the TV screen that sits in the living room will just be the best quality output in the house but will have the same functionality as a computer in that you will be able to access apps, browse the internet and send messages. 

So what does this actually mean? 
Well, we think that TV programming won’t be thought of as something that is only broadcast to a passive audience. Having a TV show that isn’t intrinsically linked with a variety of online services will be like showing a movie with no sound. 

Examples might be that you are watching the main TV screen in your living room and the presenter mentions a Tweet that someone has written. You click on the link that appears on the screen and it opens the hashtag for that subject in Twitter. But you don’t want Twitter to obscure the main screen, so you ‘flick’ Twitter to your tablet and watch it there. Someone references a historical incident and a Wikipedia reference appears, you decide to pause the show and read the wiki entry they recommend. This is really interesting so you pull up a couple of YouTube videos and watch those. 

Your wife moans at you:
“Can you just watch the programme or watch YouTube and stop surfing, you’re doing my head in”. So you flick the YouTube stuff over to your tablet and save it to watch later.  

The TV presenter introduces a chef who is going to make a dish. You’ve always wanted to be able to cook this so you add the ingredients to your shopping basket via your Tesco app that sits in your TV tray and it reminds you that you’ve run out of beer so you quickly scan the barcode of the bottle of beer you finished earlier with your phone and that adds beer to the same shopping basket.  The programme finishes and in the break, one of the adverts is playing a tune you really like so you scan it and add it to your Spotify playlist. 

How far away are we from this Utopian world?  
Well, services like YouView are scheduled to launch next year. YouView is a tie up between BBC, ITV and Channel4, but also BT and TalkTalk. The plan is that they will offer broadband integrated digital TV with on-demand anb catch-up TV services, but will also open content out to new providers who will be able to create their own content portals. Plus application developers will be encouraged to create games, tools and other services (I’m guessing like the iPhone has done).  So you can see, we are tantalizingly close.

Is there anything we need to start thinking about now then?
The answer of course is ‘depends’. But like anything that is new, there will probably be some benefit in being an early adopter. Nobody quite knows what this will look like, even the likes of the BBC and Channel 4 who are reaching out to digital agencies for content ideas instead of just sticking to traditional TV production companies. We will all have to start thinking more about our brands in terms of richer content. But also understanding that convergence actually means many more potential touch points. 

When we talk to brands today it is so rarely that they just want a microsite to support a single campaign: now it’s so much more about trying to find a clear roadmap through the many ways in which digital will support their objectives.