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Industry analysis: 90 years of TV

Industry analysis: 90 years of TV

John Logie Baird was responsible for the first linear broadcast in 1926.

It's been 90 years this week since television's first live broadcast on 26 January 1926. Here, experts from BARB, Thinkbox, Sky Media, Archant and SMG celebrate a triumphant history - and look at the opportunities that TV continues to provide.

Justin Sampson, chief executive, BARB

No medium in the UK can rival the historical impact and viewer loyalty that linear TV has earned over the last 90 years.

The Queen's Coronation in 1953 gave television a helpful nudge, to 1,100,000 licences, but so did the World Cup Final in 1966 (32 million viewers) and the Diana-Charles marriage in 1981 (21.7m or 28.4m viewers, depending who you believe) - it's lucky that BARB launched three days after the wedding to give the TV industry a single ratings system for the first time.)

This month live TV celebrates nine decades as the leading consumer medium, and we have entered an entirely new era when it comes to TV delivery, new payment models and new roles for broadcasters as creators of brands and holders of data on new and changing audiences.

As Mediatel celebrates the advances that have helped shape linear TV over the last 90 years, it's worth noting that for all the on demand viewing via other screens we face the same issue today as ever; dealing with that fragmentation. Like most fragmented markets, major brands still thrive.

Today, BARB measures more forms of TV viewing, wherever they occur. In order to keep up with the viewing shifts, we can also look forward to the merger of BARB data with device data - from web servers and set top boxes - to provide a Gold Standard service that keeps up with fragmentation. It's key to our role in delivering an objective and trusted currency to agencies, advertisers and media owners.

A thought for the crystal ball gazers out there: does technological change make redundant the idea that we all turn into our parents? Whatever the kids of today watch in the future, their habits shaped as ever by the power of shared experience, BARB will be there to measure it.

Lindsey Clay, CEO, Thinkbox

If live TV hadn't been invented 90 years ago, we would have to invent it now. The fact is that people like it. They like it because it reaches parts other forms of TV cannot; it satisfies a deeply held need for us to connect and share our experiences in the moment. It reflects our common humanity.

We may not always realise that as we take it for granted, like electricity, but when it is taken away - and we have taken it away to see how people would react - something fundamental disappears. We are at a loss.

Of course, sometimes we don't want to or can't watch TV live and there are plenty of ways to watch on the go and on demand. But the bedrock of TV viewing - nearly 90% of total TV viewing - remains the expertly curated schedules that understand and echo the rhythms of our lives.

All the technologies that have been touted as disruptors or even destroyers have fitted in alongside or even enhanced the joy of live. Imagine what social media would be like without live TV to fuel it.

As long as humans remain human, live TV will be an important part of living.

Duncan Wynn, director of sales, Sky Media

One of our British national traits is that we don't tend to acknowledge or celebrate our successes; even our wonderful inventions like TV.

The UK is one of the most creative countries in the world, contributing £84bn to the economy it was reported last week, and while we are pre-eminent in fashion, design, architecture, music and film to name a few, it is in television where perhaps we excel most conspicuously.

In many major aspects of television - broadcasting, platform technology, script-writing, production, advertising, research - the UK is undoubtedly a true global leader.

TV has been on an extraordinary journey and John Logie Baird, visionary though he was, would be baffled and thrilled by today's proliferation of channels, platforms and devices. I would contend, with little fear of contradiction, that developments in the last 10 years alone surpass those in the first 80.

Television has had a transformational effect on many aspects of life, no more so than sport and in particular football. Monday 1 February is transfer deadline day, a fascinating day of pawns being manoeuvred by the Grandmasters of the Premier League, and of course Sky Sports News will be covering every detail, with incredible passion, arrestingly clever sponsorship arrangements by Sega Football Manager, and even commemorative new beers.

Whether or not you consider football transfer deadline day as evidence of TV's fantastic draw and power is a moot point. The fact is that TV can be used to phenomenal effect for information, education and entertainment, something which another of TV's forefathers, Lord Reith, would definitely approve.

Will Hattam, CMO, Archant

There is no doubt that live television offers a unique experience for consumers, bringing with it a wide range of opportunities for brands and marketers. Whilst 90 years ago this was ground-breaking, it is still a truly innovative medium.

In this current era, where consumers are being pulled in many different directions for their attention, live television delivers all manner of news and events, bringing them to life wherever and whenever the viewer may be.

In local communities this remains an integral part of day to day life, which we see with our regional channel in Norfolk, Mustard TV. A great example of this was our partnership with Norwich City Football Club over the summer, which saw Mustard TV broadcast two full pre-season matches.

The uptake for these programmes, both from viewers and commercial partners, as well as the excitement we saw around the Norwich area, proved the demand for live content of this nature for communities around geographical areas and subjects of interest.

When it comes to brands, the opportunities are endless. With advertisers still clamouring to be involved with all sorts of live events, from the Super Bowl to flagship live shows, and consumers' demand for immersive experiences growing, live television is in a unique position with a very exciting future.

Robin Clarke, MD EMEA, Sports, SMG

No one doubts the dramatic evolution of the TV medium. No one should either doubt sport's major rudder in the progression. Live sport has been and continues to be the north star for super-sized audiences to appear under.

From an entire nation watching England triumph in '66 (yes that's 50 years ago this year) to the homes, pubs and bars that will create their own communities this summer as Rooney & co try to finally emulate their forefathers in white by winning a major trophy. Those numbers aren't counted in hundreds of thousands, but millions.

Viewing has fragmented way beyond even the wild predictions of those advertising Orwellians in the 80s and 90s; yet still around major sports events, broadcasters remain the focal point for live sports fans. And where sports fans flock as a hard to reach demographic in the most part, advertising budgets follow.

Yes millennials want to engage, share and personalise what they consume across multiple devices and channels but with live sport, big live sporting moments and occasions, TV remains the go to platform to really experience your sporting passion.

Technology has evolved that TV experience vastly. From red buttons, to a 3D fad, to the data visualisation of free kicks, player performances and final day ups and downs; not to mention 2016's VR mini revolution in its infancy.

All things have to evolve to thrive. If there's a prize for stamina here, my note goes to TV. How it continues to evolve within a tidal wave of new devices and tech is perhaps its greatest challenge to date.

And 'for those of you watching in black and white, the pink ball is just behind the green'.

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