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Putting the me in tomorrow’s media experience: the future of the BBC

Niko Waesche (Global Industry Lead of Media and Entertainment @ GfK) and Nick North (Director of Audiences @ BBC) shared the presenting duties in the penultimate keynote speech of the GfK Future Consumer Summit 2015, speaking about the changes happening to the media landscape and the challenges this presents media companies of today. In the first part of the presentation, Niko focused in on the issues surrounding the industry as a whole (see part 1), while in the second half, Nick North explained the steps the BBC has taken to keep up with the ever-evolving consumer trends, and what plans the organization has to cope with changes in the future.

Some people have argued that the BBC’s role in the British Media has considerably diminished over the past few years, but as the organization still reaches 97% of the population every week, I believe it still has an important role to play. Furthermore, with competition from OTT services continually rising, old Auntie can’t afford to stand still and must ensure she retains her share of the market, especially amongst younger audiences.

Before Nick began explaining the solutions, he highlighted some key changes in the market. As well as an erosion of the amount of time generations are spending with TV and Radio, audiences now also want to be ‘in control’ of their content. Thinking about TV viewing specifically, viewers want to decide when they watch something, how they watch it (all episodes of a series in one sitting) and how they are going to share it with friends and family.

If we look at how Radio 1 was consumed 10 years ago, for example, the changes compared to today are remarkable. Where once shows were only listened to at specific times of the day, users can now choose to rewind bits of the show they missed, or just listen to it all again later; they can tune in to their favorite shows on the car radio, but they can also listen online through the app or the website (on a range of devices); podcasts are created on a daily basis and thousands of views are registered every day on the station’s YouTube channel.

Moving away from radio, the BBC has been also experimenting (successfully) with Netflix-style TV launches, making a whole series of TV shows available to its users in one go. For example, the launch of Car Share was met with millions of iPlayer requests to stream/download each episode of the series, a much higher audience volume than would have been expected had the show been released offline.

Many of the changes I’ve mentioned were incorporated by the BBC long before the majority of their competitors, so they have had time to refine their strategies, as well as providing the organization valuable learnings to take forward. But in my opinion, the most interesting move is how the BBC are using audience data to improve their services.

Chart Beat is a tool the BBC currently employs to analyze traffic data across all of the BBC’s websites in real time. The example Nick used showed how the News and Current Affairs team monitor which stories are performing well (or not so well) on BBC News website, and how they can instantly re-arrange the webpages to increase audience engagement. The second tool that was talked about was MyBBC. This new service, using data made available by users being signed in across the BBCs platforms, will eventually provide audiences with tailored content that helps them unlock even more value from the BBC which, in the long run, will increase overall satisfaction and loyalty to the organization.

The examples Nick listed show how the BBC has previously anticipated industry changes and reacted by developing the necessary infrastructure to fully serve its audience. From what we have heard they are developing, and from seeing how they have adapted their delivery and content strategies in the past, I think we can be confident that the BBC will continue to evolve and find new ways to serve its existing audience, as well as finding new, innovative ways to serve the next generations of viewers, listeners, readers and browsers.

For more information, please contact Christopher Smith at christopher.smith@gfk.com.

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