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Note to Cisco: BBC’s innovations are no evidence of commercial success

by David Mercer | 3月 23, 2009

I just came off a call with Bob McIntyre, CTO of Cisco’s Service Provider Video Technology Group (formerly Scientific Atlanta). Bob was introducing Cisco’s approach to media networks (medianets) for cable providers. What disturbed me was McIntyre’s reference to the BBC’s iPlayer, as implemented on Virgin Media’s UK cable network, as an example of successful hybrid network DVR/VOD solutions. Not that the iPlayer has not been successful, which of course it has. But McIntyre seems to have misunderstood some of the fundamental dynamics of media business models in the UK market, because he suggested that the BBC “gets the benefit of advertising” by making seven days of its programmes available on demand. This is clearly some way off the mark: within the UK, the BBC is not permitted to run advertising alongside its TV programmes. Which begs the question: what actually is the answer to the question McIntyre was trying to address, namely, what is the motivation for programme owners and broadcasters to make their content available on demand? The answer, in the BBC’s case, is that it is obliged to make its programmes available across multiple platforms and multiple models, because of its responsibilities as the UK’s leading public service broadcaster. It has no commercial interest in doing this, beyond increasing eyeballs, but that doesn’t directly affect its core revenue base, the television licence fee, which is mandated by the UK government. With all respect to the great technology firms, such as Scientific Atlanta, which have helped to create the cable industry, it never ceases to amaze me how the economics of broadcasting in the UK and Europe are misunderstood by US observers. They frequently cite the BBC’s activities of evidence of market success. Please, please, please remember: the BBC does lots of wonderful things, but many would not survive in a purely commercial market environment. (But I still think iPlayer is fantastic.) Twitter: twitter.com/DavidMercer_SA Client Reading: Digital Media Predictions for 2009 Add to Technorati Favorites submit to reddit
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