Anne Sweeney, president of Disney-ABC Television Group, says that TV is about to become the most personal medium in the world, as well as the most powerful. Giving her MIPCOM keynote speech in Cannes this afternoon, Sweeney predicted that TV will be ever more customized by a generation used to watching on smartphones, laptops and tablets. Sweeney said: “It may be impossible to predict what television will look like 5 or 10 years from now — because the odds are, it will look different to everybody.” She also touched on how young people increasingly tweet, blog and email about shows as they watch them. “The more personalized television gets, the less passive the experience will become,” she said. “Television has always been something you watch. Now, increasingly, it’s also something you do.” The Disney-ABC TV boss presented some eye-popping figures: The global TV audience will reach nearly 4 billion people by the end of 2011 –- roughly half of the world’s population. And those 3.7 billion people will watch a total of 4.5 trillion hours of TV this year. She also underlined TV’s importance by quoting approvingly from a recent Deloitte study that concluded, “In today’s world, TV is the medium around which all others revolve.” Here’s the full transcript of Sweeney’s speech:

From the beginning, the television business has always been forward looking – to the next episode, the next season, the next advance in technology that will change everything and take us to a new level.

That’s why I was drawn to it in the first place…and why I continue to love it.

So, I thank you for the opportunity to talk about the future from my perspective – and from the collective experience of the thousands of people around the world who share my passion for this business and work tirelessly to make the Disney-ABC Television Group a leader in quality content and innovation.

The last time I was on the MIPCOM stage we were talking about the future of our industry in a digital world.

It was a continuation of a conversation we had been having for years about the possibilities, the threats to our business, and the challenges ahead.

Some were urging caution, uneasy about risking the status quo for an uncertain future. Others saw that same uncertainty as a huge opportunity, realizing there was no way to win in the 21st century, using a 20th century business model.

We knew it was time for us, as an industry, to look forward again – to work with tech leaders to create a common ground where we could all succeed by giving consumers what they want.

In 2005, Apple gave us that opportunity to make the first critical move to put great content and digital technology together.

Within six months we were selling our content on iTunes and streaming it online with ads on ABC.com in the U.S. — while delivering it to mobile phone users in Korea via TU Media as well.

And we have never looked back.

We’ve leveraged technology to create new ways to give viewers what they want, while protecting our content from piracy and generating additional revenue.

As a result, the line between content and technology is blurring.

We’re working together to create seamless viewing experiences that can be increasingly personalized by consumers.

Today the Disney-ABC Television Group is evolving as a content creation engine and a technology innovator – with at least two dozen patents in process for technology we’ve invented to further our business.

With digital technology, we’re doing things no one even imagined when I started in this industry.

We’re doing things none of us could imagine just a couple of years ago for that matter.

We’re putting our popular ABC Studios content on screens around the world within hours of its U.S. broadcast – and sometimes simultaneously – instead of months later.

We’re adding flexibility to our distribution window, premiering new series in global markets before they’re available to U.S. audiences – like we did with our hit drama, Body of Proof, last year.

We’re creating feature film quality content on a television budget and schedule.

And, what was impossible just a few years ago is now common practice — thanks to digital technology that allows production teams to work seamlessly from multiple locations.

One of the most promising new shows from ABC Studios, which has already been sold to more than 80 territories, is a fast paced thriller called Missing.
Starring Ashley Judd and a stellar international cast it was filmed entirely on location in Europe, with shoots in Rome, Vienna, Prague, Dubrovnik, and Istanbul.

For those of you who missed Monday night’s world premiere of Missing here in the Grand Auditorium, take a quick look at what all the buzz is about.

Digital technology didn’t “disrupt” our business – it transformed it.

Digital didn’t weaken the power of television – it unleashed it.

We’re giving people more quality and options than ever before. And they’re responding – tuning in, logging on, downloading, streaming, buying, renting – devouring our content any way they can get it.

This year, people around the world will watch 140 billion more hours of television than they did last year – for a total of 4.5 trillion viewing hours.

Our global audience will grow by 40 million by the end of this year, to 3.7 billion people – or roughly half of the world’s current population.

According to a recent study by Deloitte, TV shows are the most common conversation topics around the world – and the subject of more than a billion tweets this year alone.

No wonder the study concludes that “In today’s world, TV is the medium around which all others revolve.”

The people in this room did that. Collectively, we made that happen.

Television – from broadcast to broadband – is now bigger than ever.

Content creators and distributors working together to innovate globally and integrate those ideas locally in each market created this reality.

Our future is only limited by our commitment to keep the momentum going.

Now that television has been set free from all constraints – including time, place, and all previous definitions – what comes next?

How will the people in this room expand what television means – as an industry and an entertainment experience for the 3.7 billion people watching now– and the ones who will follow?

Today, television is the most powerful medium in the world. Tomorrow it will also be the most personal.

There is no one future for television. It will be defined differently for everyone.

Think about how you used technology on the flight to this conference. How many different ways you customized each experience to suit your needs and preferences.

I used the time to catch up on the production of some of our new shows. I loaded exactly what I needed, in the way that I wanted to see it. I watched at my convenience – stopping when I felt like it, switching between the video and other functions on the device like email — to connect with my team, ask questions, and share opinions.

It may be impossible to predict what television will look like five or ten years from now – because the odds are, it will look different to everybody.

The majority will be perfectly happy to watch television on their sets at home — which is still by far the most popular way to watch TV, with viewers in many markets spending more than four hours a day watching in this traditional way.

Others will want to watch television on every single device they own – and shape the experience to their individual expectations.

This demand started with kids and young adults who have never lived without the kind of personal technology that lets them customize their world.

But, great technology — like great content — always finds a bigger audience. Watching my mother posting pictures of her grandchildren, sharing her “YouTube” favorites with friends, and sending what little email she cares to do – it’s clear that the “tech generation” is the first audience demo defined by behavior, not age.

This is the tech-savvy, global, multi-generational audience driving the future of our business.

And every viewer who follows them will expect to personalize their experience, too.

Giving viewers a way to interact with our content makes it more relevant, more personal, and more meaningful to them. And we are moving forward to create those opportunities for fans of our shows.

In March, we leveraged iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touches to give movie fans unprecedented access to the 2010 Oscars – which aired on our ABC Television Network in the U.S. and was carried by our partners around the world.

The interactive Oscar.com Digital Experience included a Backstage Pass app that took viewers beyond what they saw on television, with streaming video from more than 30 cameras placed throughout the event.

Viewers using the app could switch between the cameras at will, to get the story they wanted to see – a story unique to them, because it was created by them.

Here’s John Lasseter from Disney/Pixar on the Oscar red carpet …. watching himself on Oscar.com.

I love that clip – I love that he was using our app – and I really love the fact that Toy Story 3 went on to win the Oscar that night.

And I’m proud that our Oscar Digital Experience was just honored with an Emmy Award for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media – our fifth consecutive win in this category.

Social media is another way viewers are personalizing their television experience – by taking it off the screen and sharing it with friends and other fans. That’s why we incorporate the Facebook and Twitter share features across all of our digital content sites.

We’re also launching a “Discuss” feature on ABC.com that will pull in conversations about our shows from social networks across the internet.

Our goal is to give fans one easy-to-use location to connect with others around the world and join the discussion anywhere it’s happening.

We’re focusing on social networks because that’s where our viewers are.

Around the world, social networks will have more than a billion unique members by the end of this year – and the majority of them will be sharing video content, including the short form video content we provide to further engage our viewers.

This year alone, 52% of social network users in EMEA and Asia Pacific say they’ve watched a video that was shared by a friend, while 68% of the people on social networks in Latin America did the same.

They’re also sharing via Twitter – and the percentage of Twitter users increased by triple digits last year in every region in the world.

That’s the reality our audience lives in – and they expect it to be part of their entertainment experience.

Our ABC Family brand does this brilliantly by targeting young adult viewers (also known as “Millennials”) and reflecting the world in which they live — including the rise of social media and the ever-increasing role it plays in their lives.

By creating content tailored to this audience and pairing it with technology relevant to them, ABC Family was the first truly “social” network – engaging viewers before, during and after our shows through social media sites, and incorporating the technology into ABC Family storylines themselves.

By understanding young adult viewers and delivering the content they want in ways that matter to them, ABC Family has delivered seven consecutive years of growth, becoming a top performing channel in the U.S. and an emerging global brand — with content like Kyle XY, Greek, and Jane by Design now sold in more than 200 international territories.

This combination of a strong brand, great content, and innovative technology has been a winning formula across our portfolio, including our kids businesses – starting with Disney Channel, which has grown to 101 channels worldwide, reaching more than 300 million homes in 169 countries.

We’ve kept the creative momentum going with the addition of recent hits such as Fish Hooks, Shake It Up, Good Luck Charlie (and regional versions like Best of Luck Nikki) — as well as new launches, like A.N.T. Farm. And we’ve got more on the way for 2012.

We followed our Disney Channel success with the launch of Disney XD as a global multiplatform brand for boys. With hits like Phineas and Ferb, Kickin’ It, and Pair of Kings, Disney XD has performed incredibly well for us – immediately and dramatically improving performance over the brand it replaced in every market so far.

We’ve also re-imagined our preschool brand, launching the new multiplatform Disney Junior for our youngest viewers.

We just launched this new brand in the U.S. in February with a programming block on Disney Channel, an integrated website, VOD, mobile, and EST.

So far, we’ve introduced Disney Junior in 136 countries, with programming in 21 languages, bringing preschool hits like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Handy Manny, and Jake and the Neverland Pirates to more than 61 million homes.

Still in its first year, Disney Junior has been an unqualified success, delivering double digit ratings growth in many territories.

Everything we’ve done over the past five years – and everything that comes next – is focused on giving consumers around the world the kind of television they want.

Following the success of our “Hot from the U.S” VOD platform — which offers hit series to viewers around the world within 24 to 48 hours of the U.S. Broadcast — our London team created a new service — called “ABC TV On Demand.”

This latest innovation, connects fans to full seasons of hit ABC Studios series like Grey’s Anatomy and Criminal Minds “on demand” immediately following their local broadcast.

The service has launched in the U.K., Portugal, and Germany so far – to huge success – and is coming soon to other markets.

Viewers now have many different ways to watch our programming.

They can tune in via broadcast, cable, or satellite. They can stream it on our online players and mobile apps. They can see it via Hulu or MVPD’s “On Demand” services. And they can also rent them from Netflix or buy them from iTunes.

Digital technology has unleashed our power to provide a great personal entertainment experience for every single viewer in the world – all 3.7 billion of them.

And every new opportunity we create for viewers creates new revenue streams — for our businesses and for our partners around the world.

The more personalized television gets, the less passive the experience will become.

Television has always been something you watch.

Now, increasingly, it’s also something you do.

That’s the future of television — great content, in the hands of consumers who can interact with it on different platforms, share it, and create the exact experience they want to have with it.

Television has been unleashed.

By working together to build a common ground where creative content and innovative technology meet, we’ve taken TV out of the box — and set it free to be so much more.

In the process, we’ve created the opportunity to define our own destiny, and to build businesses that are bigger, more dynamic…and more profitable… than we ever imagined.

The future of television is unknown – because its potential is now unlimited.

The possibilities are endless – and we look forward to working with you to make the most of them.

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