Tune in for the major changes hitting TV as we know it

4 Mar 2010

TV3’s head of online, Peter Clerkin, has transformed the broadcaster’s website into a major ‘catch-up TV’ hub. He says that, with social media, 3D and the mobile-apps revolution, we ain’t seen nothing yet.

What encouraged you to pursue catch-up TV and how will that change the dynamic in terms of the viewer’s relationship with the broadcaster?

In the end, the way it is going, it will be all about entertainment and catch up.

One of our goals in terms of when we set up the website was bringing ‘Corrie’, ‘The XFactor’, ‘Xposé’, ‘Tonight with Vincent Browne’ and ‘Ireland AM’ to the internet. Having done our research into what US sites were doing, we realised that catch up was going to be a big thing. But not just catch up of US and UK content, but Irish shows and home-grown content.

You previously worked at AOL Time Warner and Netscape. How did this experience lend itself to the trends we are seeing now?

At Time Warner I had a global brief in terms of user interface and design, specifically the AOL portals and getting a consistent look and feel, leveraging brand strengths and working with AOL Group and Time Warner.

We gained a lot of knowledge and understanding of what was going on from an entertainment perspective and what was happening in the US and Europe.

Digital asset management was very important and I had a good understanding of that environment and was able to bring that knowledge to TV3 when I joined.

How did you go about repurposing TV3 for an internet catch-up TV audience that prefers to access content on their own terms?

When I arrived, TV3 didn’t have a website; it was a showcase brochure. Initially, we spent six to seven months going to each of the departments in the company. On the way we were met with scepticism, but now people can’t live without it. People are coming to me asking: ‘Can you put this online and do this?’

The social media revolution is both challenging and enhancing the TV model, especially news. How do you intend to respond?

Our plan is to drive closer integration with Facebook, Twitter and Bebo and we’re looking at how can we get more involved in that area, given that there are vast numbers of communities to cater for. This is not something you can do overnight, you have to have a strategy. The tactical element is probably 20–30pc. It is all about the approach of talking to customer and consumer, how they would like it done and then implement and rolling it out through tactical sites.

How do you see people consuming their TV into the future?

Personally, I go home and look at TV via my laptop or mobile by projecting it onto a wall and I like to watch a movie on a 60-inch projector.

But in 2010, a lot more TVs will be shipped that will be broadband-enabled. Set-top boxes will eventually disappear, and all TV could be brought in directly through broadband connection as early as 2012. We’ll soon see fibre cable TVs with 3D-capable hardware.

People are going to pull down content and view it and interact with it in a totally different way. This is already changing in the US and UK, Ireland tends to lag behind.

Our broadband infrastructure is still very poor and is still nowhere at levels where it should be.

By John Kennedy

Photo: TV3’s head of online, Peter Clerkin

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years