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Our fragmented media landscape needs to evolve - the question is how?

by Ryan Garner , 27.06.2013

We now live in a world where connecting to the internet can involve one of a number of different devices; smartphones, laptops, tablets and increasingly TVs. Whilst this might have been the case for many of you tech savvy readers for some time, this choice of device is relatively new to the average consumer.

Smart and connected technology ownership is now moving out of the early adopter phase with smartphone ownership moving into the late majority (54% among UK consumers) and one-third of tablet growth driven by the over 55s. This means that the number of media consumption devices available in the average UK household has shot up to an average of 11.4 in 2013.

To add to this fragmentation of connected device usage, the number of destinations to consume media content is proliferating even more rapidly. In addition to traditional broadcast schedules, TV programmes and films can be consumed on a variety of online services utilising a mixture of free and paid for business models.

What this means is that the current media landscape offers consumers as many permutations for consumption as ordering a coffee on your way to work.

When there's too much choice

Until recently the introduction of digital platforms was confined to YouTube, iTunes and each broadcaster's catch-up service. These platforms are nice extensions to the broadcast schedule and have largely been supplementing viewing rather than cannibalising.

Over the last year, however, tablet ownership has risen sharply - driven by Google, Amazon and Apple all releasing smaller and more affordable tablets in Q4 last year. Further to this Netflix, LoveFilm Instant, Tesco's Blinkbox and Sky's NowTV have all gained increased momentum as additional and sometimes alternatives options to traditional TV.

Further compounding the complexities of this fragmentation, there is also a huge long tail of content available across all these services which impacts the level of choice and the difficulty in discovering relevant content.

It is a well-known paradox among those familiar with consumer decision making, that when asked, consumers will always look to maximise choice but in reality they find it difficult to trade off more than three options.

As new services realise they can make money out of the long tail and established brands - such as Tesco - look to enter the market, fragmentation, and thus choice, will increase further. What this means is that new business models will have to evolve in order to address the pain points that come with too much choice.

Future business models for the media world

With so much activity no one can predict how this is going to fallout and which type of business model will emerge as the new standard. When considering the shape of future business models in the media world there are three key factors to consider:

- Consumers move with their feet really quickly and the key factors likely to change their current consumption behaviours will be access to relevant and quality content in a simple and affordable way. The TV and the EPG have done a great job at this in the past so devices, services, platforms and broadcasters need to converge to maintain and enhance this highly refined method of delivery and discovery.

- Access to smart data will become more readily available. This is great news for advertisers as targeting can be refined. However, smart data will also be used to improve the personalisation of an individual's TV schedule. No one wants to spend time doing this themselves but more can be done to automate content discovery by using data from social networks and previous viewing behaviours.

- Over the past decade, market disruption has had a lot to do with the failure to recognise asymmetric competition. The current competitive set made up by the likes of BBC, ITV, C4, Sky and Virgin et al. have to think very seriously about competitors outside their industry whose core business is not broadcast media. Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook all have digital media content strategies. Further, well known brands such as Tesco, PlayStation and XBOX are all developing media platforms for the home. These new competitors will all arrive with different agendas and use media content as a means for different end goals.

It is uncertain how the new media landscape will fall out. What is clear is that we're right in the middle of the biggest change in the media world since the introduction of the television.

This article was originally published by MediaTel on 26th June 2013.

For more information about anything featured in this article, you can contact Ryan directly.