Is the future of TV free? Owen Jenkinson, Head of Marketing, Freeview, shares his thoughts with IP&TV News.
IP&TV News: Hi Owen. What have been the biggest challenges for Freeview over the last year – and how have these been overcome?
Apart from operating in a fiercely competitive market segment with big spending competitors, a big challenge for Freeview over the past year has been trying to remain relevant to consumers with relatively little new product news. In partnership with our shareholders, 2013/14 has seen the launch of a slew of new free HD channels (including BBC2 HD, Al Jazeera HD and 4/7 HD) which has stirred interest amongst consumers. We are also in discussions with the supply chain around launching a new connected offer which we know will prove popular – bringing catch up TV on the TV for a whole new audience.
From a marketing perspective, what are the biggest challenges presented by Freeview?
Mirroring the business challenges, the marketing challenges are around making Freeview an active choice for consumers. This is about presenting our brand to consumers as a valid and viable alternative to pay-TV; building on the functional benefits (95% of the most watched programmes are on Freeview, it’s free once you’ve purchase equipment); and the emotional ones (we’re trusted, friendly, straight-forward).
On a functional level we don’t control the supply chain. This presents challenges in aligning marketing efforts across our advertising and retailers’ and manufacturer’s marketing.
What kind of affect do you expect the growth of more targeted advertising models to have on free broadcasting, and what innovations are Freeview involved in here?
Currently Freeview is not involved in new targeted advertising models – it’s more the remit of our shareholders, particularly ITV and Channel 4. That said, a new connected service from Freeview will inevitably present some opportunities to capitalise on more targeted advertising opportunities.
Are there any new ‘free’ TV models from around the world you think are innovative and inspiring?
I would say this, but I firmly believe that Freeview provides an extraordinary free TV service for consumers, whilst supporting a huge CE industry in the UK. Indeed, Freeview is often approached by other countries looking to set up free TV services (in the recent past these include New Zealand, South Korea, South Africa, Nigeria and Malaysia). Furthermore, the creative strength of the BBC forces other FTA broadcasters to up their game providing an incredible array of content for consumers to enjoy at no cost. I think Freeview is something that the UK should be immensely proud of.
In terms of content, there have been some great innovations in AFP from across the world. In India, there has been some fascinating work from Asian Paints and the long running Cadbury’s property ‘Bournvita Quiz’. We are starting to see more innovative AFP in the UK too, for example the findmypast TV show on Yesterday which the brand owners claim helped double spontaneous awareness of the findmypast website.
If you had to pick a winner, is the future of TV free – or the opposite?
The future is the ability to choose. For most people, their favourite content is available for free. But there will always be a market for ‘premium’ content – but perhaps not delivered through long term subscriptions that sometimes mean consumers pay for lots of things they’ll never watch.
What do you think the main buzzwords and hot topics will be at this year’s Digital TV World Summit?
UHD; the connected consumer; multiscreen.
Owen Jenkinson will be appearing at this year’s Digital TV World Summit (Le Meridien Piccadilly, 2-3rd December 2014). For booking and more info go here.