Media executives gathered in a rainy Cannes for the MipTV convention were told that the television industry may have changed forever. In the past, new media has been something of sideshow to the main purpose of buying and selling television programmes. Now, it seems increasingly clear that media models of production, distribution and consumption are changing radically and there is no alternative but to embrace new distribution platforms.

“We’ve all been humbled by the economic situation,” said Ynon Kreiz, the chairman and chief executive of Endemol. “However, we’re feeling optimistic. If we are bold and imaginative, there is no limit. Those who can supply to all platforms will prevail.”

“The recession is changing the basis of the industry we are operating in,” commented Sir Martin Sorrell, the chief executive of advertising and communications services group WPP. “A severe recession and big technological changes will drive the process,” he told MIPTV delegates.

“TV will not die. Network television, free-to-air television will not die,” he said. “It will still be the most effective way of reaching the largest number of people in the shortest possible time at the lowest cost per thousand, but television will not have the dominance that it has had.”

“If I were a media owner, in particular an owner of one medium in one country, I would be extremely nervous,” said the advertising executive, citing ITV in the United Kingdom as a critical case.

He emphasised that new media will grow in importance as a result of addressability and targeting.

“Mobile is going to be a delivery platform for content of significant proportions,” he emphasised, noting that China Mobile has more than 450 million mobile subscribers on its network and there are some 650 million mobile subscribers in China alone. He warned: “Don’t gauge your habits with mobile and assume that the next generation or following generations are going to have the same attitude.”

Notable at MIPTV this year was the presence of ZillionTV, the latest platform promising to transform video distribution. ZillionTV is currently in beta trial, apparently in around 20,000 homes in America.

Mitch Berman, the chief executive of ZillionTV told MIPTV that it was a personalised television service that empowers consumers and said “Nothing like this has been done before.” The current ecosystem on which television is based is “all out of balance”. He said it was all about having content, a compelling user experience, and a business model, without charging a subscription or for a box, that brings together “an ecosystem of content providers, advertisers and internet service providers that is in balance.”

“The world today is changing, and change is hard, and there’s a new digital world that’s here,” he said. “We represent a new generation of television, and how consumers are going to consume it on the big screen.”

Patrick Barry, responsible for Connected TV at Yahoo!, gave a keynote speech entitled The Internet Revolution Will Be Televised and proposed an alternative way of bringing the internet to television.

He suggested that in a converging world the challenge was to respect the lean back experience of television, but incorporate features to which users have become accustomed from the online world. His solution is widgets, and a widget development kit to enable third parties to produce widgets for the television screen.

“We have a crazy idea that the internet can make entertainment in more traditional formats better by bringing some of the values of the internet.”

“We’re trying to impart a vision of the future of entertainment as a multidimensional medium beyond linear video and begin to consider an interactive dimension.”