eightbittech The Internet

Why UK TV channels aren’t smashing digital streaming

2020 was one hell of a ride, the world pretty much turned upside down and most of our lives was spent inside picking up new hobbies or watching TV, with the latter being the most popular choice. It was reported that thanks to lockdown Netflix gained 16 million new subscribers, that is a lot of revenue and was only in April. I can imagine there’s been a pretty big increase since then.

Netflix and Prime Video really made the most of COVID-19 too releasing lots of new shows and securing the rights to new sports programmes, by doing so beat some big names away too. But what I noticed during all of this was lack of UK services like the BBC, ITV, and Channel 4 being spoken about. But why is that?

TV comes first. Everything else second.

I really like Amazon for their prime TV offering, even more so since I’ve used it to watch live sports. Although the pundits are a bit iffy, but you could say that to every broadcaster, the rest of the experience is seamless. Netflix is pretty much the same, their offering is very good with original shows that are almost always immediate hits.

They both also have what I think is the most important thing: a focus on the future. The BBC are getting to a stage where they are also thinking ahead but not as much as the internet giants. ITV, Channel 4, and 5 are some of the biggest UK TV channels but aren’t doing anything modern with their streaming services. If you don’t have a TV aerial then they don’t care about you. This is where they are going wrong – the future of media isn’t from an aerial, it’s through the internet.

Creating an experience that mixes live TV, a streaming service, and catch up.

Let me explain a scenario to you. The latest show you want to watch is being shown on live TV tonight, you’re looking forward to watching it but don’t have an aerial in your TV. There’s an app where you can watch live TV on your phone but you want to watch it on the TV. The technology exists to make this all wireless and seamless. What do you do?

Well if you live in the UK, you can only cast TV wirelessly to you TV if you have Netflix, Amazon, or the BBC. A majority of the UK streaming services don’t support Chromecast, which is now a technology that is 7 years old.

A screenshot of the BBC iPlayer one of the UK's streaming services

In my opinion, the BBC iPlayer is the best UK streaming service.

So you wait until the show is finished and watch it straight after, right? Wrong. Only one of the major UK TV services have all of their TV shows up straight after the show is finished; I once had to wait almost 12 hours after a rugby match to watch catch up – a whole day later in 2019.

All of this breaks the experience for the user, in this decade these systems should be instant and seamless whether you want to watch live TV, catch up or delay. A singular experience through the operators.

What should the UK TV services do to catch up?

Fine tune their experience, this should the be the first step, at the moment the experience from all of the major TV providers is sub-par at best. The apps are jarring, they don’t flow, and aren’t using modern technologies.

Keep up with technology changes, a second and just as important step, the tech world moves fast. Not being able to use technology that is seven years old is ridiculous, especially from major TV broadcasters – this just strikes me as lazy on their part. Another thing that Amazon and Netflix do is deep linking with smart devices as well as casting, and having apps ready. Agile thinking need to be within organisations with software.

Think ahead, think about consumers. The way people watch TV is changing, YouTube shifted the way we watch television and Netflix is continuing this. We’re streaming more than watching live. Catch up and on demand is more important than terrestrial TV.

It is important that TV channels now think about how they adapt to change and not force people into the way they want you to consume. If they don’t they’ll be left behind. The internet as an industry moves quick and old TV companies need to as well.