The news that Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond are to be back on our TV screens in the not too distant future will have been met with joy in some quarters and indifference in others.
But they might not be on our TV screens at all, but instead our laptops, tablets and smartphones, because most interesting about this announcement is not the return but the nature of it – the trio will be fronting a new show on Amazon Prime, an on-demand video service that caters to a much smaller audience than they previously reached on Sunday nights from the BBC. Amazon Prime is only one of range of on-demand video providers emerging as new rivals to traditional TV channels and broadcasters. The most widely used video streaming service in the UK, Netflix, has enjoyed huge success in recent years both developing its own content and providing a platform to view both old classics and new releases from other broadcasters (although, interestingly, is yet to make a profit).
On-demand TV is now a media activity done by 38% of adults in the UK – and various forms of time shifted viewing are driven by the youngest groups.
In 2014, only 50% of the time 16-24 year olds spent watching media content was actually live TV – the rest either online clips on Youtube or similar (8%), recorded TV (16%) or on-demand TV (7%).
The rise of on-demand TV chimes with several of Trajectory’s core trends (including the demand for control and expectation of convenience), and together it is easy to predict a bigger and bigger proportion of TV-watching performed in this way.
Most important is the Deregulation of Life – a wide ranging concept that sees us live our lives far more flexibly than we used to. Increasingly unconstrained by either regimented working hours (for some) restrictive, traditional gender roles and less regulation governing commercial activity (i.e. 24 hour drinking and Sunday trading). Alongside this the rise of personal, mobile digital connectivity means we can access media content – whether news, sport, or three middle aged men wearing ill-fitting jeans – wherever and whenever we want.
These trends will determine consumer expectations from TV and other media content in years to come – hugely important as the traditional broadcasters (not least the BBC) consider their future.