ABC’s Scott: Broadcasters must invest in event TV to maintain eyeballs

Event television will be key to driving viewers to their living rooms as media consumption on a multitude of new devices continues to eat into traditional appointment viewing, according to ABC managing director Mark Scott.  

In comments made during Viocorp’s Future of Television webcast, Scott said one of the key challenges for broadcasters will be how to keep their proposition compelling.

“A focus on news and a focus on live sports will be very important in the ability for broadcasters to create events that you have to watch tonight then be able to have a conversation about tomorrow,” Scott said.

Along with premium events, he added there will be increasing demand among audiences to have archival material readily available to them.

In the case of the Seven Network, it recently unveiled a new dedicated catch-up TV destination page on its Yahoo!7 site, featuring shows including Home & Away, FlashForward, Greys Anatomy, Lost, Desperate Housewives, Heroes and the soon-to-be launched MasterChef rival, My Kitchen Rules.

Rob Leach, head of MCN Connect, MCN, added that while consumers will be able to watch TV “all over the place”, it will still largely be consumed in the home, albeit within a shorter timeslot.

“It will still be a family-driven opportunity and an event driven opportunity.

Maybe it’ll be just between 8-9pm and then audiences will then go off individually to their own devises,” Leach said.

While Scott pointed to the importance of live sports, he said the ABC would not look to grow its sports coverage, instead continuing to broadcast lower profile sports, and in particular women’s sports.

News, however, is one area the ABC is looking to aggressively grow, recently unveiling its plans to launch a 24-hour national news channel this year. It comes despite continued criticism from commercial operators.

“The criticism is mainly from Sky News obviously. It’s absolutely part of our charter and we’ll be offering something very different from Sky News – we’re available free of charge,” Scott said.

“The broader challenge with all the content out there is you’ll be looking for content you can trust. The ABC will absolutely play in that space. What we see us as doing is being the home of quality content.”

However, despite his comments about sport being a TV audience driver Scott ruled out any major investment in sporting rights. He said: “The ABC has been priced out. We cannot compete on price.”


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