IBC2015: Apps key to future of TV

Mobile style apps have key role in TV is says president of Discovery Networks
Jean Briac Perrette, president of Discovery Networks International.
Jean Briac Perrette, president of Discovery Networks International.

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The methods by which viewers navigate traditional television content are "somewhat prehistoric" and need to evolve, according to Jean Briac Perrette, president of Discovery Networks International.

Perrette made the comments during a conference session with media commentator Kate Bulkley at IBC.

When asked if he agreed with Apple CEO Tim Cook's assertion that "the future of TV is apps", Perrette said: "It's hard to argue with Tim. Clearly the navigation of television is somewhat prehistoric." He added that while smartphone and tablets have risen to prominence in recent years, both using app-based navigation systems, television has been left behind.

"That [apps] navigation is now expected and television is still catching up and hasn't really evolved fast enough to that same intuitive simple navigation. [...] Clearly there is a massive leap that needs to be made there, and apps will likely be the way to do it."

When asked whether Discovery Networks would like to "be on app on Apple TV" he responded positively. "This is not new and is ultimately about business models. We have an enormous amount of respect for Apple, they do amazing things. We are in constant conversations with them to see how we could work [together]. If there's a way to do it that makes sense for them and us we would love to do it," he said.

However, when asked by Bulkley if a deal was imminent, Perrette remained tight-lipped. "[There's] nothing to talk about today," he stated.

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While Perrette was emphatic about the importance of apps, he also spoke in defence of television's current navigation system, Perrette added that "channel surfing" type of behaviour favoured by millions of viewers around the world is unlikely to die, despite the rapid rise of other modes of viewing.

He said that when watching TV on a large screen, there is still "some element of passivity" and impulse viewing. "The old habit of just flipping through channels - the channel surf idea - I don't think it's dying tomorrow. There are plenty of people, particularly older generations, where that's a habit that's been formed for a long time and it's probably not going to go away."

Perrette added that the past century is littered with examples of false predictions of various forms of media consumption dying. "This story has been told 10 times over the last 100 years in the history of media, whether it's the introduction of television versus radio or the VCR versus television or the DVR versus television, yet here we are in 2015 and people still listen to radio," he said.
 

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