The connected audience: TV's Kodak Moment

by Foolproof

For those of us who remember the days before digital cameras, ‘A Kodak moment’ described a special or unique photo opportunity – something worth capturing. For me the ‘Kodak moment’ now has a dual meaning.

The demise of Kodak as a result of the company’s inability to respond to the digital paradigm is a vital lesson for many industries, not least of all broadcast. In my view, broadcast is nearing its own Kodak moment, however whether this will be a special moment worth capturing or a point of no return is still a question to be answered.

Which is the first screen?

I joined a varied crowd at the Connected UK conference on media convergence and heard a number of views on the challenges and opportunities for broadcasters. I do however get the sense that in reality many people are yet to grasp the full implications of delivering content to an audience who are not bound by place, time, device or type of interaction. Fundamentally, content is being commoditised, and I believe that attempting to create a differentiated market position through content alone is becoming an increasingly untenable position.

At Connected UK, Thinkbox’s Head of Planning and Research Neil Mortensen drew attention to the fact that in some cases digital technologies are augmenting linear content consumption, for example through the use of social media during live broadcasts. Pocket App’s Paul Swaddle also noted the significance of second screen interactions and highlighted the difference between interactions that are connected with live TV content and those that are independent of the ‘first’ screen. Paul finished his talk with a very valid question however – actually, which is the first screen?

For me this question draws attention to a key issue for broadcasters, that there is no longer a clearly dominant mode of consumption, even in the living room. While Neil Mortensen was right to draw attention to the stubbornness of ‘traditional’ TV consumption as a core channel for entertainment and advertising, the fact is that connected TVs are spelling the end for content distribution through ‘dumb pipes’ that are bound to a particular form of content delivery.

The commoditisation of content is fuelling a trend in broadcast that we are seeing across many sectors; that competitive success is increasingly being defined by the overall user experience. At Connected UK, Havas Media’s Head of Digital Strategy David Graham made an important observation from his own experience - that while we are moving toward a model of content distribution that is ‘always on’, people will always have a saturation point.

It’s certainly not inevitable that the connected audience will spell the end for broadcasters, but with limited free time and virtually unlimited choice, again we are seeing that creating a differentiated user experience is becoming the strategic imperative. Kodak was once synonymous with the very act of taking photographs, but heritage and brand equity are no match for the might of disruptive innovation.

What do you think?