The announcement by the BBC that they plan to move light entertainment channel and home of more re-runs of Family Guy and American Dad than you could shake a stick at, online in a bid to save a hundred thousand pounds a year. Was met with a flurry of online protests, petitions, Facebook pages, with the channels talent being amongst the most vocal against the plan. Which is understandable who wants to lose their job.
But in all honesty the BBC’s plan to move BBC Three online is just a first step towards where I see television moving in the next few years. Towards a more connected, social, and interactive online experience. It’s already happening with the likes of Netflix and Lovefilm’s online streaming services growing in popularity and creating a TV consuming public that have a new desire to craft their own TV schedule. TV is slowly becoming less of a passive experience, an experience which saw the rise of the couch potato and is now moving towards an interactive, two way past time.
“The hashtag has helped to turn even the most niche programme into event television.”
You could say it all started way back in 2007 with the first documented use of a hashtag on the microblogging site Twitter. The hashtag gave people the abilty to group tweets into themes, and around events. Since then Hashtags have been used to raise awareness of charitable causes, political events and provide information related to natural disasters. But it’s the use of the Hashtag in television that has had the biggest effect. It’s now nearly unthinkable for a programme not to include it’s Hashtag within the first few minutes of broadcast. The hashtag has helped to turn even the most niche programme into event television. All the while pushing the TV experience from a total sit back and absorb, activty into something that demands your feedback, your insight, and your witty commetary.
Services like Beamly (formerly ZeeBox) have jumped on this new trend for interactive television experience. With it’s service allowing users to comment, share and gain greater insight into the programme their watching, and ultimately turning TV into a social event.
All this points towards a television of tomorrow being a much more online connected affair, which makes it only logical and damn near impossbile for it’s delivery not to be taken online too. There are already a myriad of services providing TV online, with the likes of TVCatchup providing access to pretty much the entire Freeview service over IP. Combine that with the offering from BBC’s own iPlayer service, ITV’s player and Channel 4’s 4OD and it’s already possible to pull the plug on the arial on the roof and rely entirely on your broadband connection.
Obviously there are still huddles to be overcome with regards to network capacity, the growing issue of net neutrality, and also the argument over who should be forced to pay for use of all this extra bandwidth. But even terrestrial television had hurdles to overcome before it became the mass media we have today.
So lets not mourn the passing of BBC Three from our TV guides, and celebrate it as a first step towards Televison 2.0 a more connected, more interactive, more social televisual experience.