Digital UK chief: ‘Don’t believe Silicon Valley OTT hype’

Jonathan Thompson, Chief Executive of Digital UK, the body which supports digital terrestrial TV in the UK and provides operational support for the Freeview DTT platform, has suggested that Silicon Valley’s view of the broadcasting sector is based on “flimsy evidence and half-truths”, warning of the risk of wrong public policy decisions being made as to future content strategies and networks.

Addressing a meeting of the Broadcasting Press Guild in London, Thompson, a former Director of Strategy of both Media Regulator Ofcom and UK public service broadcaster Channel 4, accepted that TV is changing and that much of this change is driven by services such as YouTube, Netflix and Amazon. “But new technology alone cannot dictate the future of television. If it did, we’d all be watching 3D TV,” he remarked.

“As an industry, we are in danger of getting carried away in forecasting how these changes will play out and that risks slewing important decisions about the future of one of our most important sectors,” he warned, noting that 20 years ago, it had been predicted that the arrival of digital television would lead to the fragmentation of audiences to the big main channels. “It didn’t turn out that way, with that same handful of channels still attracting more than half of all viewing,” he observed. “We should learn from that and be a bit more sceptical about some of the big claims we hear about OTT leading to the death of broadcast hype.”

“We should be less willing as an industry to adopt the Silicon Valley view of the world based on flimsy evidence and half-truths. We should be wary of big claims when coupled with a lack of transparency over audience figures and instead focus on real-world evidence of what viewer are actually doing,” he advised, adding that even the much talked about millennials who have fully embraced the on-demand world are still watching more live TV that anything else.

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Originally posted by Colin Mann at Advanced Television
13th April 2017