A media academic has dismissed the threat of the internet to broadcasters, describing it as “B*llocks 2.0”. Patrick Barwise, retired professor of management and marketing at the London Business School, says television advertising is down but “it is not falling off a cliff”.

“People who should know better are talking about a digital revolution, about whether or not we will all be watching ‘linear television’ in five years’ time,” he said. “They have signed up for what I call ‘Bollocks 2.0’.”

He said broadband was an inefficient way of distributing content, while digital broadcasting met the same needs and was more efficient. “There is next to no demand for on-demand,” he said. “The argument is wildly out of proportion about how important this is for television.”

Patrick Barwise is still engaged in research into consumer use of devices such as digital video recorders and suggests that behaviour change is evolutionary, not revolutionary as many commentators suggest.

He was speaking at a debate on the future of public service broadcasting at the London Business School.

CBS eyes online viewers
His comments come as CBS issued a research report suggesting that streaming full-length episodes of programmes does little to threaten television viewing.

Research by Magid Media Labs showed that from a sample of 50,000 streaming shows online, some 35% were more likely to view shows on the network as a result of seeing them on the web.

“These findings confirm what we’ve believed all along,” said David Botkin, responsible for research and audience analytics at CBS Interactive. “Online viewing is complementary to broadcast viewing, so making our programming more accessible to people drives awareness, interest and ratings both online and on-air.”

Of course it seems to imply that 65% are not more likely to watch a show on television after seeing it online, which is not such good news for the network. In fact, nearly half of those watching CBS shows online said they only or mostly watched them online.

Jaime Spencer, director of Magid Media Labs put a positive interpretation on this, pointing to a net gain of 21% of online viewers who were now more likely to watch television as a result.

“The results are clear,” he said. “By making their programming available through the CBS Audience Network, CBS has expanded the reach and audience for its content without impacting their traditional television viewership.”