The On-Air Creative Manifesto

So we’ve all heard the rhetoric, “Linear broadcasting is dead” “Content is king” “Binge watching is how the audience consumes things now”… so on and so forth.

The likes of Netflix and amazon compound this line of thought with their aggressive expansion plans and massive spending, such as this year at the Sundance Film Festival (article on Sky are in the midst of their launch of Sky Q their new product offering, joining up the dots of their to-date some what fragmented product offering . Its main selling point seemingly being that “you can pick up on one of your devices where you left off on another.” I do hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Sky… you are way late to the game, and yet being the biggest pay to view provider in the UK with 20k+ employees and all the rest of it, you can probably afford to show up late to the party and still make a killing. This is not all they are late on. Taking a line out of Netflix’s book (like most other traditional broadcasters right now) their new Sky Q also offers up recommendations based on subscriber viewing habits. Now this is all well and good give us more opportunity to watch the great content you have carefully curated for us, as an audience. But here are my thoughts on the effect of this on anyone working in promo creative departments within broadcasters (such as myself).

Linear broadcasting relies heavily on its promo creative department to give important On-air navigational queues to its audience reminding them of TX times, dates, titles, etc. Nudging them gently like a herd of cattle towards the next lush green field of grass.

Netflix really doesn’t need this, as there is no on-air. Sky Q shows us traditional broadcasters will in the future rely less heavily on this functionality as they too turn to algorithms to personalise suggestions to individual viewers, and rightly so, don’t get me twisted.

But this means the space for promo / on-air creative is going to get squeezed. We will continue to be a necessity as I personally don’t see linear dying, not anytime soon for definite. But it is certainly having to give over some space to the new players in town. So as we get squeezed, jobs get scarce, money becomes less competitive and more depressive… what can we do? Who can save us?

My view… We continue being creative, continue to excel at creating beautiful moving image, and short form live action / clip based work, we work on more long-form, we continue to write scripts, and storyboard. The answer is in the problem. “Content is king”… “Binge watching...” these turns of phrase, and the success of the likes of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime… etc. Show us that the viewing public is insatiable right now. We as broadcast creatives must rise up from content curators and become the new content creators. There will be space for us, or we make our own! I’m excited to see the innovations that will be birthed out of the current things happening in the broadcasting industry.

So in short. Live long and may the Force be with you Harry.