Are we moving to an all-IP media future?

“We believe that the days when all media will be distributed over the internet are not too far away.”

Those are the words of the BBC’s Chief Technology and Product Officer, the very nice Matthew Postgate, who made a long speech which the BBC has reproduced on its press site. Digital TV Europe excitedly reported it as the BBC predicting an all-IP future.

I tweeted this last week, and it was retweeted heavily, with a lot of radio people posting “I told you so!” and “I’ve been saying this for ages!”; and a few online radio companies jumped to self-promote themselves as part of the all-IP future.

Calm down, everyone.

First, as a former senior manager at the BBC, I’d start with the seemingly trite statement that whenever you hear “we” coming from a BBC manager in a speech, what they really mean is, firstly, “my department”, and secondly, in most cases, they also mean “television”. Indeed, there is no mention of radio in the section of Matthew’s speech which talks about an all-IP future.

Radio and television are very, very different. The BBC used to publish figures that highlight this. Below: 92% of all TV consumption online is on-demand — but for radio, that figure is only about 30%. Radio works best as a shared experience with a human connection; and that shared experience is stronger when people listen at the same time.

The fact is that right now, only 9.3% of linear radio listening is online. Just 9.3%. It’s tiny. Broadcast accounts for the rest. Radio has been streaming since 1998 — and in twenty years, we’ve achieved just a 9% takeup. This does not appear, to me, to herald an all-IP future for radio any time soon.

And, as Matthew says later in his speech, there are many problems in the way. The internet networks couldn’t cope; everyone doesn’t even have fast internet in the UK; and not everyone can afford internet either. As an example, the BBC is showing the World Cup online in 4K: however, they’re limiting the number of people accessing these streams — because the all-IP future is, it seems, not very scalable.

… read on at The Medium

Originally posted by James Cridland on The Medium
4th June 2018