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On demand viewing will not kill off broadcast TV schedules

Wednesday, May 13th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

TV shows that have a set broadcast time each week will ‘always’ have a place on schedules, despite the rise in popularity of on demand viewing, a NOW TV boss has said.

Jecinta Noble, head of editorial at the Sky-owned streaming service, said scheduled broadcasting will not become redundant, because people will still enjoy ‘appointment’ shows like Game of Thrones.

Writing a guest blog on the official Vodafone UK blog, Ms Noble said it was no surprise that TV viewing on mobile devices is continuing to rise, as it had become part of people’s daily viewing habits to watch “on the go”.

Mobile viewing follows “a completely new set of rules” from traditional home viewing, with trends showing what people watch on their devices and when, she said.

“The act of watching TV has changed so much in the last five to 10 years, but the big question now is whether we’re still in that transitional period or if we’ll soon reach a point where scheduled broadcasting becomes redundant,” Ms Noble wrote.

“In other words: if you can choose what to watch and when, do we still need a broadcast schedule?

“Short answer: Yes. Longer answer? Well, let’s take Game of Thrones. It’s an excellent example of why ‘appointment’ TV shows – the kind that have a set broadcast time each week – will always have a place on our TV schedules.”

Other shows like Britain’s Got Talent and Strictly Come Dancing, which fulfil a need for family viewing, also pull in “great numbers”, she said, adding that other on demand have reverted back to weekly episodes with a couple of new shows.

“Television is changing. It has already, in fact. If you think back 10 years ago, the idea of watching whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted was in its infancy.

“It’s incredible how quickly the internet has changed so many aspects of our daily lives, and arguably none more so than TV broadcasting.”

'Snackable' content

Trumpeting the availability of NOW TV across 60 devices, Ms Noble said trends showed that ‘snackable’ content – around half an hour long – is popular on mobile devices and on weekday mornings and evenings.

“Short TV shows suit people who are commuting, and comedies are especially well-liked (presumably because people need a bit of cheering up on their way to work!).”

Viewing peaks during the release of major shows like Game of Thrones, and also when the weather is bad – on mobile and in homes – while children’s channels are popular during school holidays, especially around 10am.

“I think what we really understand now as an industry is that everyone wants something different from their TV experience,” she added.

“Naturally, there are some who hate having to wait to see what happens next, but the great thing about NOW TV Entertainment is that we cater for all those viewers, so they can watch live, they can watch catch up or they can binge on a box set to their heart’s content.

“Ultimately, great content will always be great content regardless of how it’s released. And we’ve got every scenario covered.”

Last month, Cable.co.uk reported how NOW TV came under fire from angry viewers who were unable to watch the season premiere of Game of Thrones, in a repeat of problems encountered last year.

Despite assurances from NOW TV that the service was prepared for the highly-anticipated UK premiere of season five following problems the previous year, consumers who tried to view the HBO fantasy drama complained that they suffered from buffering, making it unwatchable.

NOW TV apologised to those who had suffered problems but said the majority of customers had been able to watch without any interruption.

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