A Wider Perspective on the ITV Voting Story

Another guest blog today from Jupiter’s European Media Analyst Nick Thomas

Tempting as it is to join the chorus of disapproval as details of UK broadcaster ITV’s latest PR disasters around voting irregularities emerge – and boy, do they make themselves an easy target – what are the wider lessons for broadcasters adjusting to a world of declining revenues and fragmenting audiences?

Yes, broadcasters need to create new revenue streams as audiences and ad revenues migrate online. Getting revenue from premium phone lines was never the long-term answer, not least because audiences are increasingly interacting via their laptops and mobile internet (ie voting for free) rather than via SMS and Premium calls. The latest publicity has now accelerated the decline of those revenues.

What’s needed is a fundamental shift in the way broadcasters perceive their relationship with their viewers, in response to the shift that viewers are already making. As their viewers increasingly time-shift, place-shift, and multi-task across different platforms, broadcasters like ITV need to demonstrate quickly that ‘interactivity’ means more than simply fleecing their viewers via dodgy phone lines. Contrition is fine, but can ITV actually change what seems to be hard-wired behaviour among some of its execs?

As revenues decline, broadcasters should also radically look at the value of their content. As new business models for content creation emerge – the likes of Kate Modern and Quarterlife are produced for a fraction of traditional TV budgets – broadcasters should not take the primacy of professionally created content for granted. Their viewers don’t.

The growth of online video consumption creates new challenges for companies seeking to engage audiences. For more on this check out our recent report Online Video in Europe: Managing TV Audience Fragmentation.