Julian Clover argues that broadband internet might once more help support a multiplatform television proposition.
It would be too much of a leap of faith to hope that the credit crunch doesn’t play a particularly large part in our coverage over the next 12 months. So far the major issue has been largely currency-led, rather than industry-led, with just a handful of companies making public announcements on the size of their workforce.
The test will come when the year-end financials are published over the next couple of months. The operators will play a key part in this, so we’ll be looking for two sets of numbers, the actual subscriber figures and the amount of investment being made in new infrastructure.
Arguably operators have no choice other than to continue investment, providing their subscriber revenues don’t take a dive. In many markets there remains enough competition for there to be at least a three, possibly four-way, fight for revenues.
The great variable will be the internet, how fast it will go, and who is prepared to pay what to who. Research conducted on behalf of the UK regulator Ofcom suggests that while the average maximum possible speed is 4.3 Mbps, customers are actually getting 3.6 Mbps, but in the grand scheme of things is that really much of a difference.
For example if you were to upgrade to Virgin’s new 50 Mbps service would you then complain if you ended up with 49 Mbps? It is normally the ISP that gets the blame for poor speeds, but I know from personal experience that any slowdown might just as likely be the router or anything else in the chain from entry point to PC.
Speed will become particularly important as the trend towards over-the-top and catch-up television develops. If hard working families have more than one computer, then it is a logical conclusion that they may be demanding simultaneous downloads, which require a higher speed. The job of the marketing departments will be able to get the message across in between the big numbers of the headline figure.
It seems a logical conclusion that the internet will once again support the multichannel, or should that be multiplatform, television sector in 2009 as it did with dial-up and broadband before it.