The iPlayer was really the platform that pushed on-demand viewing across the internet in the UK. You wouldn’t expect anything less from an organisation with the resources (in monetary terms, in talent and engineering terms and in marketing and reach terms) that the BBC can bring. It’s still the iPlayer that comes to mind when most people think of watching TV via the web and the iPlayer was certainly the talk of other European broadcasters (at least it was when I was regularly speaking to them). It’s a shame as other on-demand services are equally as good, ITV in particular have made great leaps. The Sky Player has been made to work with their proven business model which can only be a good thing for the space.
Because the iPlayer is not commercially driven, however, there has been little discussion of advertising in on-demand platforms. For the commercial providers it has always been the advertising that pays for the content. ITV has always been great at ensuring you get similar experience online as you would watching the show on television: why would they show programming without advertisements and commercial breaks? At last, most organisations have reached the point of being able to replicate the linear television commercial break experience. Sadly, however, we’re not seeing a great deal of innovation in this space which intrigues me even more now I’m less directly involved in the technologies that power this advertising. It’s an area ripe for new ideas. I know people in organisations I worked for have ideas by the truck-load but, for some reason, they’re not sharing them right now.
The economic climate and resulting downturn in advertising spend can be used as an excuse for the lack of in-production experimentation and, for commercial television companies struggling with smaller audiences and reduced ad revenues, this may be valid. But where are the innovative tech companies pioneering new ways of advertising around on-demand television? They must be there somewhere.
So, my Christmas/Birthday wish, point me to the innovators. I’m @curns on Twitter and I’d be interested to read about something genuinely innovative in the way in which advertising content is presented to consumers of on-demand content.