What is the future of television? Stars, writers and industry experts reveal what they think TV will look like in 10 years

We asked TV stars in front of and behind the camera for their predictions of where television is headed over the next decade. This is what they had to say

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What will television look like in ten years’ time? It’s a simple question, with no straight answer.

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Will it be a world of on demand streaming, of technological change where the box in the corner is a thing of the past? Will the future belong to a new group of celebs and presenters, a new generation of YouTube stars?

Or are we being too hasty? Maybe we will still be sitting round the TV in our millions to watch Bake Off – or at least whatever captures the nation’s heart next. 

It’s an important question, not least for us – hey, Radio Times has been telling people what’s on for over 90 years, so ‘the death of the TV schedules’ is kind of a big deal. 

So we did the smart thing: we asked for advice. We spoke to a huge range of celebrities, actors, writers, producers and industry experts, asking everyone the same two questions, to find out what they saw coming over the TV horizon in the next decade.

Here are the questions…

  1. What do you think the future holds for TV in the next 10 years, in terms of the way we consume it, how it is made and perhaps even the types of things we’ll be watching?
  2. Do you think there will be any significant differences between the UK and the US or the rest of the world?

And here are the answers…

Check back with us in ten years’ time to see who is TV’s true Nostradamus. Unless, you know, we’re not around either…


The end of scheduling

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Sir Lenny Henry, comedian, actor, writer and presenter:

In ten years I wonder if the idea of scheduled television won’t feel quaint. Apart from news and current affairs, everything else will probably be ‘on demand’ whatever it is whenever we desire.

Big ticket shows/series/serials will launch in a fanfare of publicity – then because we’ll all be wired up and subscribing up the wazoo/entire series will be beamed to us to multiple platforms.

You can read Sir Lenny’s full predictions here


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Ben Winston, director and producer of The Late Late Show with James Corden

I think the notion of a schedule will be gone. People will just consume television whenever they want it. Live viewing will be mainly for event television and sports.

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Phil Collinson, development producer for ITV:

I think it’s going to become harder and harder to maintain a solid schedule – and yet uniting people behind event telly will still be the holy grail for broadcasters. I think everyone will cater to the box set binge audience, that is inevitable now, but I hope they will seek to find more special event pieces to build a schedule around each night. 


More shorter, online content

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Billie JD Porter, journalist and TV presenter:

I was taking meetings in LA last year with a few producers to discuss some long-form film ideas I wanted to pitch, and I met one guy who said that one of the most lucrative areas of his company was making content for Snapchat. Yes, you read that right. There are whole entertainment shows and other program formats that are being made with the view to be completely disposable, and to exist only in 10 second bursts. 

The YouTube stars and vloggers of this generation are reinventing not only the sort of content that young people consume, but they’re also dictating the platforms where people in the entertainment business are investing their money too. In the age of the internet, a lot of that money and interest is geared towards very youth oriented, easily digestible short-form content.

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Emma Kennedy, writer of BBC sitcom the Kennedys:

Emerging talent, especially in comedy, are already bypassing traditional broadcast television altogether. You can understand why: the commissioning process in television can take years and executive control can knock the joy of creativity dead in its tracks. Commissioning needs to adapt to make decisions quicker or Broadcast TV will lose out to the YouTube generation who are now doing it for themselves. 

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Caitlin Moran, columnist, author and co-writer of Channel 4 sitcom Raised by Wolves:

Clearly there’s going to be more crowd-funded TV shows going straight onto the net – any writer/actor/comedian with a solid fanbase will be able to swerve the terrestrial commissioning process and go straight to their fanbase, as has happened in the music industry, and is starting to happen in the US.

This also allows “creators” greater freedom in what they write about/how they write about it, and seems to be the most obvious and rapid way to address the still-notable under-representation of people of colour, women and the working classes. Audiences will, in effect, become commissioners.

You can read Caitlin’s full predictions here

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Gemma Whelan, actor in Game of Thrones and Upstart Crow:

We were all so worried about the ‘loss’ of BBC3 and it becoming an online only channel, but I think they knew what they were doing…so much of the TV we consume is online now anyway as we all use the ‘watch again’ facility. It’s rare that I sit down and watch a programme at the actual broadcast time. So I think more and more TV will be consumed online and in our own time.

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Lyse Doucet, BBC Chief International Correspondent:

“The death of television may be just five years away,” declared a headline, err, five years ago. Television news is still very much alive but it must change, and is changing. Watching the “box,” no longer takes top billing.  Now it’s TV on smart phones, computers or tablets. It’s TV when you want it, how you want it. Many in this generation will not bother to buy a box.

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Will traditional TV news bulletins, with our carefully curated menu, lose its power and pull? Ten years on, some will still wait for our best daily take on the world, but more people will consume cafeteria-style, watching only what they want on the web.