Broadcasters are now grappling with the same issues over digital integration that brands and agencies have been facing for years.
The dilemma over whether to integrate digital roles into the heart of a business’ teams and projects or preserve specialist digital departments has been brought to the forefront once again by the BBC’s decision to scrap the individual role of multi-platform commissioner (nma.co.uk 26 May 2011).
Instead, it has opted for the integrated approach, which will see it gradually fuse the role into the heart of existing linear TV genre teams. There are a bunch of reasons for it doing so – one being squeezed budgets, but another is a genuine belief that linear and multi-platform content shouldn’t continue to co-exist as two separate businesses.
The proliferation of multi-platform content has led to a hasty restructuring of commissioning teams at all the broadcasters, with most spending the best part of the past year getting their houses in order to meet the rising demand for this kind of content.
Channel 4 has gone for the opposite approach to the BBC’s, introducing a separate multi-platform commissioner for each genre, all of whom report to a head of multi-platform commissioning, and ITV has taken a similar approach.
This is a choice everyone in the public and private sectors has had to, or will have to, face at some time or another, and until now, it’s been brands and media agencies leading the charge. Media agencies and brands saw the potential for integration years ago, and yet still few have managed to pull it off successfully.
Now broadcasters are having to make the same call. It may be that budget restrictions have muscled the BBC into leapfrogging to the integration approach, which will no doubt be a much slower burner in terms of proliferation of multi-platform commissions, compared to the adopted structures at Channel 4 and ITV.
Nevertheless, broadcasters are having to tackle the same integration issues that agencies and brands have been talking about for years – they must not underestimate the challenge.