We want news on the phone – and that means reinventing the TV news channel


Million views a day

When, as is likely the case by 2020, the TV in the corner of the room is a screen which can take any internet-delivered service, the difference between an online video stream and a continuous broadcast channel disappears for the consumer. Not for the producer, however, who has to measure the cost of satellite and terrestrial distribution infrastructure against delivery via the internet.

This was the logic which drove the BBC to make BBC3 a web-only, iPlayer led service. It seems unlikely, as the use of on-demand media players grows, that it will be the only channel to do so. For video news content, how about an app on a mobile device or TV set that aggregates the latest packages filed by newsgathering – personalised to your taste, but with the three things that you really need to know about, ready in a bulletin whenever and wherever you want it. Not waiting for the news-wheel to turn to the top or bottom of the hour.

Broadcasters might, as al-Jazeera announced recently, integrate online and TV. AJ+, they say, is “for the generation connected to the real world” – an online network of short videos aimed at a younger audience to rival Vice News.

They can drive their online video through relentless interaction with users which has made RT (Russia Today) the most successful news channel on YouTube, clocking a million views a day.

News consumers are turning to mobile devices – for short clips or text rather than live streams – and the age profile of those wedded to their TVs continues to grow older. Which makes it odd to think a linear broadcast channel should be the heart of your news service in the digital age.

In TV news, if you didn’t already have a 24-hour channel – you’d probably invent something else.

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