iPlayer, Project Canvas, Google TV, Hulu, YouTube - name as many IPTV platforms and players as you like but the fact remains we'll still all be watching bog standard, beamed over the air and decoded, linear, live TV in 2020. And we're not talking a minority here, the estimates are 75% of our viewing will be in the traditional way.
These are the predictions as made by the world's largest communications services group and media buyer WPP after an extensive survey carried out on the current TV habits of the good men and women of the UK. The findings, according to the company's CEO, Sir Martin Sorrell, "haven't been the dramatic shifts that people think there have been", and as a result, he said:
"Commericial TV has a much stronger position than we though. So, technological advancements such as time shift, on demand and IPTV will work around broadcast TV in the future, but not replace it."
The survey itself revealed 10 distinct quantitative facts based upon the entire age range demographic and these were:
- The average person spends 4 hours and 5 minutes watching TV per day
- Digital TV penetration is at 94 per cent
- PVR penetration has reached 44 per cent of hourseholds In PVR households, only 5 per cent of TV watched is time-shifted
- In PVR households, only 5 per cent of TV watched is time-shifted
- For Virgin Media customers, 6 per cent of the viewing is on-demand
- 7 per cent of all TV viewing is non-linear
- The amount of online video watched is 8 per cent of the total TV viewed and, of that, 90 per cent of it is short form video (i.e. YouTube clips, etc)
- Only 1 per cent of TV viewed is online and live and, even if you just look at the 15-34 age group - the one you'd expect to be most in touch with technology - that figure only goes up to 2%
- Of the money in TV, 24 per cent of it is public funded, 31 per cent is funded by advertising and 39 per cent by pay TV subscriptions
- £35 million is currently spent on online video each year. That's 1 per cent of the total spend on TV.
The results are rather on the shocking side but then perhaps it's easy to feel that from inside the tech bubble. However you look at it, you can see why advertisers aren't going to be in a hurry to work out how they should be spending their money trying to capture the attention of the IPTV audience. It seems, for now, despite all the possibilities at our fingertips, the overwhelming majority of folk just want to throw themselves on the sofa and watch whatever they're told to.
Despite the findings though, Sorrell and WPP don't believe that the nation is destinted to wallow in ludditery. On the basis of the results, the company came up with the following five predictions for our TV habits over the next 10 years at Intel's 'Shaping the Future of TV' discussion.
- There'll be a steady transition towards IPTV with 50-70 per cent of households receiving such a service by 2020.
- The traditional mode of viewing in 2020 will still be linear.
- Advertising will still be a critical part of TV revenue but more likely 20-25 per cent, down from 31.
- Pay TV will increase proportionally to more like 50-60 per cent.
- The balance of power in the TV world will move further from the content providers and to the platforms instead.
The real winners, according to Sorrell, will be Sky, Virgin Media and BT.
"The consumers want to have one relationship with one media provider," said the media tycoon. "The device makers are unlikely to get enough market share to offer that but the platforms are in a better position."
Of course, things begin to blur when you start considering the games console and indeed other future independent PVRs as the box to provide live TV content. While in the short term Sky, Virgin and BT might have the decoder side of things sewn up - at least as far as the masses go - there's obvious competition running further into the future with the likes of Microsoft offering Sky's TV and on-demand content as well as what can be found in the Microsoft Marketplace. Nintendo, of course, allows iPlayer to be watched through the Wii and there's plenty to be seen on the PlayStation Network but will any of this be enough to get in the way of these predicted gate keepers?
And the question beyond, of course, is that if the people want this single relationship with the one provider, how long will it be before Sky, Virgin Media and BT start crossing more boundaries? How about BT for your phone, your TV, your broadband, you mobile and perhaps your gas and electricity as well? And when's the Sky mobile phone coming out, or mobile OS anyway? After all, there's going to be a lot more content consumed on the hoof over the next 10 years.
So, would you feel comfortable signing your soul over to a single company to take care of all your utility needs? With the best deals always being the bundles, it might be harder than you think to say no.