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Has Technology Killed the Broadcast Super-Star?

Getting a large audience is becoming more and more difficult in today's multi-platform world. See how HEVC could help.

By Bruce Devlin | 09/04/13

It was very sad to hear over the weekend that David Frost had died. He came from a generation where it was possible to be a true global broadcasting super-star. Why don’t you step back and think about what he achieved during his life. Now try to imagine some young 20 year old today trying to achieve the same thing. The effect of technology on our media value chain becomes clearer:

David Frost was “found” by a BBC heavy-weight of his day named Ned Sherrin. Ned’s protégé went on to great things. Consider that a Hollywood blockbuster has been made about a single interview he did with President Nixon. Just say that out loud. A Hollywood movie being made about a TV interview! David Frost’s address book included the names of presidents, kings, queens and Hollywood super-stars and was all based on the audiences that he brought in when he appeared on television.

In today’s multi-platform world, getting a large audience is becoming more and more difficult. Type the phrase “Internet sensation” into Google on any given day and there will be an abundance of dancing cats, talking parrots, singing firemen and clothing malfunctions. There may also be the odd contribution from some internet “stars” who didn’t start out in the TV or music industry such as Ray William Johnson or Toby Turner. But searching through the noise of the internet it is still difficult to see where a talent such as David Frost’s can get itself started today and then viewed by an audience of people that will go on to spend money in a way that will elevate that person from “videos that are better than funny cats” to “Interview the world’s most powerful man after his downfall”.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Toby Turner’s Sideburns song is brilliant (and an almost-homage to Bradley Wiggins). He’s doing better than most at finding an audience in this chaotic new media world. I wonder how he will cope if we all end up shooting in 4K with HEVC? Will this allow him to find a bigger audience by shooting better pictures at lower bitrates? Or will he, like John Bourbanais, who looks at the reality of Hollywood say that 2K is still good enough for most things that appeal -like Skyfall for example.

As a technologist, I would love to give you a definitive answer on all these questions, but I’m afraid that the reality is an answer of “it’s complicated”. The media landscape is increasingly fragmented and new technologies like 4k and HEVC allow new niches to exist. As a technologist, I can help you look at the questions that you should be asking and allow you to explore the interactions of the answers to those questions and the business that you are in.

Featured in: Broadcast | Multiplatform Distribution |

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By Bruce Devlin

With 30 years in the industry, Bruce looks after Media Technology for Dalet. An engineer who designed antennas, ASICs, software, algorithms, systems and standards, Bruce is best known for being @MrMXF and you can get his book on Amazon.

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