|Europe I 2008
|Broadcast to broadband – the 2.0 ecosystem audience
|Josep A. Aliagas
Josep A. Aliagas is the CEO of Arena Mobile; he founded Arena Mobile as a new way to make ‘always on’ media service available through the convergence of the Internet and television. Mr Aliagas began his career working as an auditor in KPMG Peat Marwick. He left KPMG to establish the first Internet service provider (ISP) in Spain. Together with partners, they grew the business in Spain and Latin America, then integrated it into Tiscali, a multinational group. Mr Aliagas served as the group’s Spanish CEO until the company went public. He subsequently founded a TV channel to service the Madrid and Barcelona underground transport stations and airports and, together with the biggest Spanish-owned TV production company, founded one of the first interactive TV companies in Spain. The WCA 2007 Awards named Mr Aliagas one of the 25 Most Influential Persons in Telecoms. Josep Aliagas graduated in Economics from Barcelona University, where he later earned a post-graduate degree in Auditing and Accountancy.
The day of the passive spectator is drawing to a close. In the near future, it will be largely history. Tomorrow’s audience will demand and get the tools it needs to check background material, purchase what they see on the screen, comment about the content, change the content, interact with friends and family – and engage in a great number of other activities simultaneously from whatever communications device they happen to be using. This calls for service providers with vision.
Times are changing. We are heading towards a global economy, brands are global, music is global, the film industry is global, and sports are global… the question is, how do we survive in a global market? The audiovisual industry is evolving. Entertainment media is sold in many different countries, dubbed into different languages, but powerful local content still survives. Much of this local content deserves to reach the global market. In the past, language was a major barrier in each region of the world, but that barrier is dissolving. This is a time of great change. Historically, spectators were passive; now they are evolving and becoming more proactive and interactive. We are in the process of moving from a traditional audience to an interactive and proactive audience – from audience to audience 2.0. To make this happen we need to integrate television, Internet, and mobile. The technology is already available. The market just has to understand the possibilities and use the technology effectively. We want the traditional audience to evolve into an interactive and proactive audience, that is, into audience 2.0. Let me explain it better with an example. Barcelona year 2015 – a group of friends are watching the Real Madrid vs. Barcelona match on a TV screen in a typical Diagonal Avenue bar in Barcelona. It all seems normal… except that they are all using their mobile handsets while they watch the game. Jordi is betting online from his mobile, he has just won €150 that have been paid to him immediately on his mobile phone. Pierre is downloading the statistics of Lionel Messi, who has been named the World FIFA Player of the year for the second year in a row, and he is comparing his statistics with last season’s match statistics. He’s doing great again! Manuel is watching the goal that Giovanni Dos Santos scored against Real Madrid from one of last season’s matches, and Miguel is using his mobile to call his father and tell him that Barcelona have just scored their second goal. Roberto is at the stadium watching the game live. He has just recorded a video clip of the goal and has sent it to everyone in the group! He has also uploaded the video clips and photos to the TV3 website; TV3 is broadcasting the match especially for this event live in eight countries. Right now there are 5,000 people in the TV3 online chat rooms. Two thousand people have uploaded video clips and images. There are more than half a million people using the website. It’s a truly global audience! Each of these customers has paid €1 to watch the match live on the Internet. And for that price, they could also gain access to a special community site organised for the event. Once the match has finished, Jordi goes to Facebook and posts a video message on his friends’ Super Wall and also uploads a few photos to iFlickr of him and his friends in the bar celebrating the victory. Does this sound weird? It might, but it can all be done right now. We are talking about a real multimedia triple-play experience. It all exists, it’s all here, we just need someone to put it all together and create a real-time concept that the audience can understand and use easily. We are not too far away, but we still lack a leader to take us to the ‘audience 2.0’ stage. We need brave corporate strategists to incorporate all these processes and features into mass media events. Previously, several players have tried to take on the leading role; today, operators with billing capabilities and handset manufacturers are playing the content and TV game on mobile. Similarly, we have the Internet companies – they have huge global audience, but low revenues, and all of them are trying to play the multimedia game, but the main players have not yet appeared on the scene! I believe strongly that the major television and media groups will drive this evolutionary change in television participation. Television companies have the power to get millions of people to watch the same programme while communicating the same message. This is their unique strength, and this is the reason why they have to be the ones to lead the audience 2.0 process. The change needs to be accomplished smoothly, step by step, but with a firm march towards the triple-play experience. One thing is sure: they have to start moving soon, as their power to lead the charge will not last forever. The main problem that we are facing right now in making all of this happen is that many TV companies have not yet understood the role that they need to play in this near future triple-play game. They see the process as being overly technological and sometimes they do not realise that they are part of this game, too. Maybe it is that some TV companies lack true corporate strategists. Perhaps revenues have been too good to warrant significant change. Nevertheless, change is coming and those too slow to react, will struggle to keep up. They may require the help of suppliers or consultants with industry experience to help them smooth the process and speed up the change. Companies with a track record in Internet, television and mobile can help the transition run smoothly and help the operating companies with the vision that they lack – the integration vision, the technical vision, and a vision of a true triple-play experience. The revenue streams, the way television programmes are created, the ways that the programmes are viewed, and the way people interact with them are all evolving towards a new reality where spectators will become part of the show. The participation of the spectators, themselves, will create interest that helps drive audience ratings. Participation depends upon the tools that the viewers are given and the roles they are allowed to play. Under this scenario, things will change. Television will still play a leading role in the content industry, the broadcast industry will remain a huge player, but the triple-play agents will get most of the three windows (computer, TV and mobile) audience and will lead the entertainment industry in audience and revenues for the coming 50 years. Creativity plus interaction and technology will be the magic formula to survive within the audience 2.0 ecosystem. It will not be simply a matter of weeks or months before we change the way we watch television; time alone won’t change us – finding the right programme, with the right mix of interactivity, will. It is daring to be the first mover, create a trend, create a culture, and create a different way of watching TV. Long-term change does not happen quickly, it happens quietly, often without us even realising it. Things have changed and are changing still; the way we watch the Beijing Olympics and the way we will experience the 2028 Olympics will be completely different. We will look back and wonder how we could have been such passive spectators at the turn of the century.