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UK broadcasters face online threat

News, 18 September 2015

CAMBRIDGE: The growing popularity of online streaming and on-demand services poses a serious challenge to traditional UK broadcasters, the chief executive of media giant Viacom has warned.

Speaking at the Royal Television Society conference in Cambridge, Philippe Dauman predicted that traditional British TV networks, such as ITV and Sky, would come under the same kind of pressure faced by US networks, the Telegraph reported.

Viacom and other major US networks suffered on the stock market last month amid mounting concerns that US TV viewers are increasingly "cutting the cord" in favour of online streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon.

Dauman said that while some of the specific implications may be less relevant in the UK because of its strong culture of public service broadcasting, nonetheless the industry trend will have an impact.

"Undeniably the media industry is in transition, the trend is clear. The revenue models that are being challenged in the US will come under increasing pressure here [in the UK], as the digital revolution continues to transform viewing habits," he said.

However, he went on to say that the greater reach of programming via YouTube, Snapchat and other online services offered a "powerful long-term opportunity".

He said Viacom, the parent company of networks such as MTV and Nickelodeon, is already embracing these new viewing habits and has announced, for example, that Comedy Central will launch a series of original shows on Snapchat.

Dauman also expressed confidence that traditional broadcasters continue to have an advantage with their output of original content, The Drum reported.

"What makes television 'television' – that is the content – is here to stay," he said. "Let's not confuse medium with message. Whatever the screen, people are watching more video content – a lot more – than ever."

Data sourced from the Telegraph, City AM, The Verge, The Drum; additional content by Warc staff