Channel 4 Head of Online on opportunities & threats

First published on the AOP site on 30 November 2010

Richard Davidson-Houston explains the broadcaster's view of the Product Management role, and the top opportunities and threats in the coming year...

How do you view the role of Product Manager at Channel 4?

The unambiguous owner of the proposition, that stands between the audience need on one side, and the business need on the other. So that whenever we have a question about what we should be doing with this product, this experience, we always know where to go, and that central source of the truth is what we call the Product Manager.

What is the top opportunity for Channel 4 in the next 12 months?

The really exciting opportunity for the next 12 months is to get good at, and creative in new environments – converged devices that might offer up a blend of an experience between a television programme and a multiplatform interactive experience. Right in the same place, on the same screen, through the same control.

The opportunity there is obviously enormous, and hitherto unexplored.
And what is the greatest threat?

From a broadcaster perspective, complacency, that because the economy has turned up again, at least to an extent… complacency might make us take our foot off the throttle.

On the other side, paradoxical, but adjacent to that, a fear that we can’t take control of our own destiny, that we don’t have what it takes to be major players in the new world.
What are the secrets of putting product at the core of your business?

One – seeking empirical evidence from a range of sources to understand what it is that’s going to address the audience need. And on the other side, a honed and acute sense of judgement that means your proposition is differentiated substantially from other propositions in a similar place.