Broadcasters must follow BBC's example to survive, say analysts

Broadcasters of all sizes will have to follow the BBC's example and invest in technology that will allow them to operate as...

Broadcasters of all sizes will have to follow the BBC's example and invest in technology that will allow them to operate as integrated content brands rather than just TV channels if they are to survive, analysts have predicted.

Last week, Computer Weekly revealed that the BBC is planning to spend £1.3bn on new technology in the next seven years, as it looks to revolutionise the way it makes television and radio programmes.

The new "enterprise-wide programming environment", based on a Foundry Networks infrastructure, will improve the way the BBC creates content and allow it to deliver content over various channels, said John Varney, chief technical officer at the corporation.

To build an environment where all BBC content can be created, accessed and shared will involve massive investment in storage technology.

"If all our radio and TV content was stored as IT data, we would be creating 13Tbytes of data every week," Varney said. "We are currently discussing these requirements with Hewlett-Packard, EMC and Sagitta.

"The idea is to let the programme makers sit at a display and work with the content until they are completely happy with it. When I am talking to them it is not about how technology can save them money, but how it can improve their content and allow that content to be delivered across different platforms."

Widening the scope of services in this way will be key for broadcasters, whose existing business models have been threatened by the rapid development of the European digital TV market, said Chris Tant, managing analyst at Datamonitor.

"As both traditional free-to-air and multichannel broadcasters face mounting pressure on their core revenue streams, they will need to exploit ever greater scope and scale in order to remain competitive," he said.

"By moving beyond channel-focused business models to operate as integrated content brands, they will benefit from more predictable cash flow, improved brand strength, greater operational efficiencies and the ability to cross-promote content and provide bundled packages to advertisers."

The BBC's technology investment is being made in response to the trend that has seen viewing behaviour becoming far less dependent on channel schedules and more based on individual programmes, Tant said.

"Broadcasters such as the BBC are now focusing on building audience awareness and attracting and retaining viewers to their content brand as opposed to individual channels."

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