How do today’s broadcasters engage new audiences?

Television has long appealed to people of all ages, social backgrounds and geographical boundaries.

How do today’s broadcasters go about engaging new audiences?

How do today’s broadcasters go about engaging new audiences?

Even before we had access to such gargantuan volumes of content, back when viewing was limited to three or four channels, it was normal for multi-generation families to gather in front of their living-room screens of an evening.

That wide appeal is definitely still in evidence, but today there exists a noticeable gap between young and old - not only in the type of content being consumed, but also the way in which it’s being consumed. The main driving force behind this shift has undoubtedly been the internet.

The advent and rise of connected television has given us all the ability to watch what we want, whenever and wherever we want to watch it. However, it’s the younger viewers among us who have embraced this concept with the most conviction. The statistics sometimes hide it, but there is a very specific demographic that is consuming television in this way, and it’s not too difficult to see why.

Why is this happening?

First and foremost, the internet is the millennial’s natural habitat. While some Generation Y-ers were reaching their teenage and adult years as the web was finding its way into homes, the rest were born into a world where connectivity was seen as more of an ‘essential’ than a ‘luxury’ – where fast, unrestricted access was all they’d ever known.

Young people are also living and consuming a lot more on an individual basis. Many get home from school or work and head straight to their rooms in search of entertainment from various gadgets – most of which are connected. Games consoles, smartphones, tablets and laptops all offer endless access to all kinds of content channels, be it YouTube, iPlayer, Netflix or Twitch. What this means is that the communal living room television set is no longer the first port of call on the average young consumer’s search for content.

Up until now, the transition has moved with some pace, but it’s difficult to say whether this gives us an accurate preview of the future. Maybe this is just an age thing. I mean, when these young viewers get older, will they revert back to the convenience of linear broadcasting and the comfort of their sofa after a hard day’s work? Only time will tell. All we know is that at present, this generation craves interaction and control, and these needs are satisfied by internet-connected TV.

Content everywhere

We depend heavily on the internet these days, and this dependence is growing with every new app and device. As this happens, people’s expectations are changing. They demand convenience, and expect to find content in the places that suit them. Providers, therefore, have little choice but to think outside the conventional broadcasting box – they need to reach audiences in every way possible.

To this end, over the top (OTT) apps create some fantastic distribution opportunities. It gives content owners the ability to deliver freely across different devices, operating systems and even countries. With such freedom, it no longer makes sense to restrict yourself to one medium in the hopes of reaching a specific audience – cast the net far and wide to ensure your programming can be found everywhere.

The value of this is, first and foremost, increased content consumption and more engagement - when content is available across multiple channels, it can be found by new audiences. Additionally, monetisation opportunities improve, through both advertising and subscriptions. The key is to remain consistent across the various channels, especially when it comes to branding, but this shouldn’t be an issue. With TV becoming more integrated through IP, broadcasters are seeing a greater connection between their conventional channels and the branded apps they offer mobile users. It’s just a case of ensuring consumers have the same positive associations.

Around the clock

For broadcasters, this connected TV revolution isn’t just about where content can be delivered – it’s also about when. We’re now used to channels running around the clock, providing content every second of every day, but this isn’t a feasible model for everyone.

You’ve got some channels for which it only makes financial sense to broadcast at certain times of the day – the times when they have the viewing figures to justify spending on broadcast services. When you’re broadcasting for long periods of time to small audiences, it can be more cost-effective to move over to IP.

It’s important to note at this point that the greatest expense is still in the content itself, and IP can’t change that. What it does do, though, is reduce the overall cost of running and managing a channel by providing an affordable platform through which to deliver content when audience figures are low. It could be a permanent switch, or one that lasts just a few hours every day. The key is being able to analyse usage throughout the day and work out the best times to use each option. This is where data and analytics strategies come in.

Data to the rescue

In the past, content would simply be pushed out, with little or no feedback on what happened afterwards. You wouldn’t know who was watching what, or where and when they were watching it – at least not with any accuracy. When content is being delivered over the internet, however, you can find out exactly what’s going on with your channel, and then use the insight. The result is a chance to develop a much better understanding of the market, and ultimately improve product offerings in the long term. You can create better content and deliver it in ways to which your audience will respond.

You could argue that the internet’s influence on television creates as many challenges as it does opportunities, but the latter cancels out the former in so many ways. While audiences are diversifying and expecting more from content owners, the tools broadcasters have at their disposal – more cost-effective delivery platforms and data, being two prime examples – make it possible to meet these needs, and do a whole lot more.