The Drum Awards Festival - Official Deadline

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By Angela Haggerty, Reporter

April 17, 2013 | 4 min read

The viewing public's embracement of multiple digital platforms is making TV more interactive and more profitable, according to Thinkbox CEO, Tess Alps.

Alps once said in an interview with the Independent that she wanted to "end the destructive and utterly false TV-versus-internet paradigm that seems to have taken root in some journalists' brains", and speaking at a recent Empty13 event, she reinforced that view, saying online TV had actually boosted income for the industry and that it was staying relevant to consumers.

"There will be all sorts of developments in terms of allowing people to see programmes online, possibly exclusively or possibly in advance, I know the BBC has plans," she explained. "Certainly, there's going to be more of a move to allow people to download rather than just stream TV, to download on to another device.

"I think it's all TV, it's all viewing and we make more money out of online TV so it doesn't scare me in any way at all.

"We've got this horrible binary attitude that there's a new thing here so it must kill this other thing - it just doesn't happen, it's just a new behaviour."

Empty 13 was set up by Bite Communications to fill an "empty" 2013 lacking in the major sporting and royal events of 2012, with the aim of "identifying what steps brands should take to face the challenges of an empty year" by debating behavioural and technological trends.

"I think people make events," Alps continued. "I honestly believe in terms of real-time events, TV broadcasts are an enormous part of it. For lots of people the start of next season's X-Factor or Downton Abbey is as big an event as anything else.

"Although we had these fabulous events last year for the Paralympics and the Olympics, total television viewing was not up massively so it's not as if it generated lots more interest, it just displaced other TV events so I'm extremely hopeful that we can produce brilliant content and TV that will make an event in people's lives."

Interactivity is becoming increasingly important in TV, Alps explained, and building upon the approaches taken by some programmes will be key in keeping viewers interested in live broadcast TV.

"A major theme has been how strong the relationship is between TV and social media and we know from our research that relationship makes people enjoy TV even more if they can participate in it, whether that's simply by making a comment on Facebook or actively playing along," she said. "If you're watching Million Pound Drop you can actually play along live - that's a tremendous development.

"I think there'll be more commercial activity. I think broadcasters have really grabbed social media both as a marketing took but also [for] getting more input from the audience, making it truly interactive.

"If you watch BBC Question Time you'll know it's a live show; they ask for people to tweet their questions in so they're actively asking for social media participation. That will get bigger and more and more brands will start to get their head around what they can do with Shazam and Zbox."

Alps joined Thinkbox, the UK's marketing body for commercial broadcasters, in 2006 after leaving her role as chairman of PHD Group UK. She has over 30 years' industry experience and had previous roles at Television South West, ITV and Yorkshire and Tyne Tees TV.

Online Empty13 Tess Alps

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