If you look at programming on ITV, for example, the content that attracts big audiences is billed to advertisers as specials. Brands have to put in new money or pay a premium. The big properties increasingly are bringing the audience. Outside of that you are not seeing the same level of quality in terms of content.
Broadly, the biggest properties are produced outside the broadcasting companies, such as The X Factor, produced by SyCo.
Web-connected TV now brings a real risk for commercial TV because you have new gatekeepers with people like Sony and Panasonic becoming the new platform owners [with their internet-connected TVs], but more importantly you can deliver programming direct to the TV platform.
It is now easier for Google to compete in the same space as ITV, which would have been unheard of only a few years ago. Platforms may well be able to tailor and sell advertising on demand. From our point of view it is probably good news, but from ITV’s point of view it is probably bad news.
In the next five years, or 10 at the outside, a whole generation will look at TV as just a big screen that delivers content to them. The whole concept of a channel will not be something that people will be wed to.
Initially it will not be as big as we think, but in the medium to long term it will have a massive impact. If Google goes into TV seriously, that could be a major challenge for broadcasters like ITV – which will underestimate the impact of such a move – or even Sky, Freeview and Virgin Media.
There is going to be more competition to buy TV content because it is content that brings the audiences, not the channel. That is the stark reality that many TV stations will have to face up to in the next five or 10 years.