Tuesday, 11 December 2007

What will you be watching on TV this Christmas Day?

TV is as big a part of the UK Christmas experience as turkey and presents. Who can forget Den giving Angie divorce papers on Eastenders in 1986, Del and Rodney finally hitting the jackpot in 1996 or the Queen’s ‘annus horribilus’ in 1992?

Actually, many of us could forget the Queen’s Speech according to new research commissioned by ANT into the ultimate Christmas Day TV. Her majesty’s words of wisdom limped into the top 10 at number nine, and the charts were dominated by blockbuster films and comedy programmes like Only Fools and Horses. Interestingly, in the 18-24 age category the ultimate Christmas TV program was The Simpsons, which made only number eight in the overall list.

But audiences have been declining for Christmas Day TV for years now, so is TV’s importance to the big day also in decline? I’d say not – the difference is that there is much more choice now, in terms of volume of channels available and ways to watch the content, such as IPTV. Viewers are no longer dictated to by the schedules, and with content freely available for download we are genuinely not far from away from having our own personal Christmas Day TV schedules.

Friday, 30 November 2007

Amateur movie makers move over

Home movies have reached the end of the line. As production values online improve, web viewers and advertisers are turning away from user generated content. Web sites that once made a decent income from premiering skateboarding cats and bungee jumping dogs are shifting focus to professionally produced programming.

The evidence? Bebo has opened up it pages to media companies, ManiaTV has closed down its user generated channels and Hollywood has spotted the marketing opportunity that the web provides as a new channel for promoting movies.

Advertisers’ clearly want to follow web traffic, but there is a broader driver. They also want to protect their brands online. Premium brands are understandably uneasy about aligning themselves with user-generated content.

UK TV rivals come together for on-demand

In a completely unprecedented move, the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 are in 2008 to launch a joint on-demand service. The new service will bring together around 10,000 of hours of television programmes in the one place, including access to both current shows and archive material.

With all three parties already having their own on-demand services, this move could be viewed as surprising. But they have realised that consumers are more likely to use a site that has output from all major broadcasters rather than individual sites. It also prevents (for the time being) content being sold by another provider, which takes the away the control over pricing and packaging, a fate that has already hurt the music industry.

2007 has been a landmark year for the TV industry, with the push towards IPTV and TV over mobile, and this announcement ensures that 2008 is going to be equally significant for the industry.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

India ripe for IPTV

Microsoft and Reliance Communications will launch India's first high-definition internet television service next year.

The Indian market has all the right conditions for IPTV – a large TV-viewing population which is fond of TV and entertainment, a movie industry which produces the most films worldwide annually, and eased broadcasting restrictions which mean that scores of news and entertainment channels which have sprung up in the past decade.

However, whilst there are about 71-million homes in the country of 1.1 billion people who already have television, 61 percent of them currently have pay TV, mainly through cable and satellite, according to industry figures. Some say this could slow uptake of services, but perhaps it’s really pricing and content deals that will make or break it.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Broadcasters fight back against internet upstarts

US broadcasters NBC and Fox have finally unveiled Hulu.com, their belated response to YouTube. The site will carry free ad-supported video clips from the two networks' shows as well as content from MGM and Sony.

Broadcasters have finally worked out that user experience and content are the two drivers of customer subscriptions and are fighting back against internet over the top TV entrepreneurs.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Digital TV – right here, right now

Whitehaven might not be the first place one would think of when it comes to innovation in television, but the small Cumbrian town is the first in the UK to undergo the official switchover from analogue to digital TV.

With BBC2 switched off today, and the other analogue channels set to follow suit by 14 November, some 25,00 homes in the area will have to get a set-top box, cable, satellite or broadband system to watch TV. The rest of UK will be completely digital by 2012.

But how will this affect the viewer? Whilst people are ready for the switch in terms of having the right equipment, some might be a little daunted when confronted by the variety of options in front of them for the first time. So the industry, more than ever, needs to ensure that services are easy to use and that user interfaces are straight forward and simple to navigate. Get this right and set-top box sales will continue to grow.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

ANT confident about IPTV market growth

ANT is ideally placed to take advantage of future IPTV market growth, according to Simon Woodward, CEO of ANT Software, in a recent interview with international investment news site Wallst.net.

Simon highlights that some of the company’s successes include its software being licensed to all Tier 1 set top box manufacturers and its inclusion in 70% of operator deployments worldwide.

You can hear Simon’s interview in full by clicking on this link

Monday, 1 October 2007

Do we want more TV ad time?

Interesting story in the Media Guardian today, about Ofcom and whether it should raise the amount of TV advertisement time.

Currently broadcasters can carry an average seven minutes of advertising an hour, which can rise to eight minutes between 6pm and 11pm – that amount is capped at 12 minutes per hour. If Ofcom brings us in line with Europe, the average can be increased to 12 minutes at all times, an increase of around 50 per cent.

The problem, is that there is no demand for more TV advertising, with people either irritated at the current level of interruptions to their viewing, or the more tech-savvy increasingly using hard drives to record programmes and skip past the adverts altogether. Throwing more time at TV adverts is at best short-sighted. There will come a time when TV ads as we know them now will not exist, so the industry needs to look to new ways to drive revenue instead of burying its head in the sand..

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Saleha Williams Shakes-up TelecomTV's Broadcasting by Broadband Panel at IBC

The consumer should be at the heart of the debate taking place between broadcasters, network operators and IT providers, argued Saleha Williams at one of TelecomTV’s opening broadcasts at IBC. The “Broadcasting by Broadband” panel session looked at how broadcasters are having the carpet pulled from under their feet as their knowledge becomes redundant in the new IP world. It asks whether the communications industry can offer advice and knowledge in understanding the networks.

Saleha battled it out with Nortel and Microsoft, maintaining that technology for technology’s sake is not what the industry needs.

To view the full interview please visit TelecomTV’s web site or click on the link
here. You may be required to register.

Friday, 31 August 2007

UK telcos slow on IPTV uptake

New research from Screen Digest shows that the UK is trailing behind the rest of Europe in the roll-out of IPTV services. In the UK, BT is the only provider to operate a national IPTV service.

The main driver for telcos turning to TV is that they’re losing their share in the broadband market. Delivering TV as an additional service will help them attract subscribers, reduce churn, and also enable them make money through advertising.

Aren’t telcos are treading a thin line by taking so long to make the leap to IPTV? Increasingly, viewers are turning to alternatives such as video/TV on the PC and social networking sites for entertainment. Surely, a big selling point for IPTV is that it can bring together the traditional elements of the living room TV and video-on-demand, whilst also adding new and exciting applications? For example, connecting friends and family, sharing images and music, interactive gaming and much more.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Do consumers actually want mobile TV?

A new survey by Continental Research has revealed that the number of subscribers to mobile TV is actually decreasing. How significant is this for the industry?

At this stage, not very. In other parts of the world mobile TV is much more established and has proved to be a success. The UK has never been an ‘early adopter’ market and there is enough momentum behind mobile TV to ensure that this early blip in adoption will be overcome.

What the industry does need to do though, is make sure that it has a compelling proposition for the average consumer. In terms of content we are getting there, but operators need to make their charging models clear and above all, affordable. Making mobile TV easy to use is crucial, and a user-friendly navigation system could be instrumental in boosting subscription numbers. Once everything is in place I’m confident mobile TV will really take off in the UK. To borrow a line from the movies – “if you build it, they come!”

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Review of OTT services

There’s a good summary of current over the top (OTT) services (via The Trend) in The London Paper.

Canal MOOZ has also published a list of the 13 places to watch TV online for free.

OTT is increasingly seen as a staging post on the road to full blown IPTV services whereby operators publish content on the Internet and delivery it via a user’s ISPs infrastructure.

ISPs reject over the top TV

ISPs claim that they can’t handle the video traffic that the BBC iPlayer is capable of generating. At 350MB for an hour programme it is not surprising that networks are starting to creak – and the service only has a limited number of beta users to date.

ISPs developing their own IPTV services are also surely concerned about over the top (OTT) services cannibalising their own revenue streams. It is the same issue that arose with the development of IP telephony; as usage rose, it consumed bandwidth and threatened voice revenues hence it is commonly
throttled by ISPs.

But there’s a bigger issue here. OTT services such as BBC iPlayer aren’t really comparable to traditional TV in the home. In fact, it’s unlikely that TV on the PC will appeal to consumers beyond niche markets such as students at certain times of the day. Research into viewing habits shows that even when we do watch online video we like short sharp bursts of content, hence the popularity of Youtube.

Content owners like the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 should therefore be asking themselves how they can get their next generation services to the TV and onto other devices such as mobiles and gaming platforms.

Monday, 13 August 2007

ANT's Saleha Williams on TelecomTV

TelecomTV has sided with ANT Software agreeing that Microsoft’s application for a patent that will allow advertisers to target viewers via bio-sensors and cameras in their homes as 'scary'.

ANT believes that such big brother tactics are unlikely to work and suggests that sponsorship of programming, combined with one to one highly targeted IPTV based advertising, will be the preferred model for TV advertising in the future. To see the full interview with Saleha Williams, Executive VP Commercial at ANT, click

Thursday, 9 August 2007


Multimedia Research Group has reported that the continued growth of the global IPTV industry, specifically in Europe, Asia and North America, rests squarely with “misunderstood” ‘Middleware’.

Our experience is that everyone has very different opinions of what exactly middleware is. Some have even confused what ANT Software offers in terms of user interface solutions with middleware.

Here’s our definition: Middleware is specialist computer software that extends the general capability of a system to enable and optimise specific usage. Let us know what you think…

Friday, 3 August 2007

Microsoft barking up wrong tree for TV advertising

Microsoft has applied for a patent that it plans to use to help TV advertisers provide more targeted adverts by placing a camera that sits on top of a TV. It would be able to detect the presence of a person and maybe even identify them.

There’s no doubt that TV needs to look at its advertising model very seriously, as the way in which people consume television is changing rapidly. But we’re not convinced that people would welcome the presence of a camera like this in their homes.

However, we do support moves to look at alternative revenue streams within TV advertising. One option is using the user interface, or menu, to host advertisements. However people consume TV – via mobile, downloaded from the internet, pre-recorded using Sky Plus or an equivalent system, or the plain old fashioned front room / sofa way – there will always be a menu used to navigate through the choices. As TV schedules get more personalised, it stands to reason that menus will do so as well, so what is there to prevent targeted advertising around those menus?

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

OTT...Friend or Foe?

Over the top (OTT) is currently a hot topic in the broadcast industry especially so with the debate regarding net neutrality continuing to make headlines in the telecoms sector.

OTT TV means the provision of a TV service over the top of someone else’s network infrastructure – 99% of the time without any carriage payment (just think YouTube).

We’re great supporters of OTT but there are some obvious challenges that the industry must address…Having invested heavily building the necessary physical infrastructure, the net neutrality debate is fundamentally centred around the telco finding viable business models that will cover their investment. Whatever the outcome of these discussions we’re certain that OTT will have a massive impact on the TV industry for years to come.

Monday, 16 July 2007

TV ad revenues under threat

There was a great article in yesterday’s Observer that looked at how viewers are increasingly calling the shots in terms of how they consume television, and how this in turn is shaping how the industry generates revenues from advertising.

The premise of the piece argued that although TV still plays a massive part in our lives, audiences are becoming fragmented thanks to the likes of YouTube, MySpace and Google. Television schedules will become obsolete as people can now watch TV when they want and on the medium of their choice, and this will have a massive impact on the ability to generate advertising revenue. The journalist went on to cite how ‘TV’s share of the global advertising market dropped this year for the first time since its inception’ and outlined a number of ways in which TV has can claw back the lost ad revenue.

Some of these have their merits, a couple of others less so. But one option overlooked was using the user interface, or menu, to host advertisements. However people consume TV – via mobile, downloaded from the internet, or the old fashioned front room / sofa way – there will always be a menu used to navigate through the choices. As TV schedules get more personalised, it stands to reason that menus will do so as well, so what is there to prevent targeted advertising around those menus?

At ANT we provide user interfaces for around 70 per cent of the world’s IPTV market, and have recently made the push into the wider digital media world, precisely because of the reasons outlined in the article. TV viewing is changing and the advertising industry urgently needs to change with it, and we believe that using the user interface could be a real solution to this dilemma.

Mobile TV comes into focus at Berlin event

The Medienwoche Berlin-Brandenburg media event in August/September is to take an in-depth look at the state of mobile TV in Europe.

Mobile TV has been the ‘next big thing’ for a while now without ever really taking off outside of the Asia-Pacific region. Why is this? Is it cultural differences, or just a question of the content and/or technology not being of sufficient quality yet?

Whatever the reason, the situation is expected to change over the next 12 – 18 months. T-Mobile UK has just launched Pocket Comedy TV, a mobile TV channel, and there are a number of pilot projects cropping up across the sector. People are gradually getting used to the idea of watching television on their mobile handsets, which means that the industry will have to move quickly to meet the demand.

Our prediction is that within a few years mobile TV will be as common as texting is now, providing operators can get their pricing strategy right. With the European Commission this week calling for a standard for mobile TV it may not be long before the small screen becomes the mainstream.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Cable & Wireless launches UK's first nationwide IPTV platform

Cable & Wireless has announced a £70 million deal with Inuk Networks which will see it enabling the delivery of television, telephony and broadband services.

The service will be delivered through Inuk subsidiary Freewire which currently has an initial focus on the student market, with over forty universities representing over 100,000 student rooms. Cable & Wireless will also white label Inuk's IPTV platform to other wholesale DSL customers that want to provide their customers with a digital television offering.

IPTV has yet to take off in the UK. BT Vision is the only other provider to offer IPTV services in the UK, but it can’t do multicast unlike Cable & Wireless. Freewire has an established customer base in an influential market sector.

But it remains to be seen whether Cable & Wireless will benefit from a first mover advantage albeit to a limited market segment. BT Vision hasn't done anywhere as near as well as expected, so this is the operator's chance to take a leadership role in an emerging market.

IPTV moves beyond early adopters and innovators

Recent forecasts from Alcatel-Lucent show that IPTV subscriptions are set to reach between 70 million and 100 million by 2010.

Simon Woodward, CEO of ANT Software Limited, comments:

"Alcatel-Lucent is forecasting very high, but that shouldn’t detract from the fact that, yes, the market is growing, and fast. There’s been continuous hype over subscriber numbers over the past few years and expectations have been high, but today the technology has reached maturity. Operators who were the first to innovate in IPTV are starting to see the benefits from their early investments as they start to compete heavily with their triple and quadruple play offerings.

“Europe outstrips the rest of the world in the uptake of IPTV – particular hot spots are France, Spain and Italy. For example, France Telecom is spearheading change with its successful mass-market deployment.

“In the past, operators were reluctant to invest heavily in IPTV following high profile delays in rolling out new services. However, the industry is now moving beyond that and service providers are generating real revenues and reducing customer churn through IPTV.

“The next round of innovation will be through sophisticated applications aimed at drawing in consumers. It’s these applications which can set IPTV apart from other broadcast mediums – whether it’s the ability to IM whilst watching the football or sharing a pictures and music with friends. There are endless applications which can be enabled through IPTV – only your imagination can hold you back.”

Friday, 6 July 2007

ANT Software at IBC 2007

ANT will be showcasing its next generation solution for the delivery of digital content, ANT Galio Client, at IBC 2007.

Operators are continuing to compete on the quality of their service and the user interface is at the heart of the viewers’ experience. The ability for operators to add new, exciting applications combined with the flexibility to personalise services can give a significant edge – providing it is done quickly and easily. No solution is more adaptable or better geared to the consumer than ANT Galio Client.

NEW DEMO: Scientific Atlanta demos ANT Galio on Cisco stand 1.471
At IBC 2007, Scientific Atlanta will be demonstrating ANT Galio and showcasing ANT’s industry grade suite of applications. ANT Galio offers unsurpassed delivery, control and presentation of digital media. Building on over fourteen years’ experience in the delivery of digital TV, ANT Galio provides operators with a solution that combines total flexibility with performance and robust control.

User Interfaces developed for ANT Galio achieve speeds comparable to the monolithic fixed applications found in many of today’s digital TV interfaces and are significantly faster than modified internet browsers.

Monday, 2 July 2007

MySpaceTV Launches

MySpace has launched a TV service intended to take-on YouTube in the online video world.

MySpace has a pressing reason to take on YouTube more directly. Just as
MySpaceTV is being fashioned to compete with YouTube, engineers at YouTube are busy developing social-networking features including enabling users to chat while they watch the same clip and share their favorite videos. So, the social networking site has some heavy competition on its hands.

This announcement, coupled with the
Sony/Honda announcement about minisodes (edited four-to-six minute versions of thirty-to-sixty minute television shows) a few weeks ago, is a real sign that the industry is maturing beyond the niche, experimental stages. In fact, there are three key things worth noting which underline a new and exciting time for online video:

1/ Online video is now multi-country and multi-language – a classic sign of
maturation in the technology sector

2/ Users/viewers are now demanding higher quality (professional in

MySpaceTV’s case) content which is helping move the perception of online
video from niche to mainstream

3/ The Honda/Sony partnership shows inventiveness and a willingness to
experiment with the revenue models that will be essential for the industry’s
long-term self-sustainability. It also illustrates how players can make money
from the “long tail”

Media watchdaog gives BSkyB surprise consultation on pay TV

Ofcom is investigating BSkyB’s plans to replace SkyNews, SkySports News and Sky Three with three new pay-TV channels in time for the start of the Premiership football season. The move will allow the broadcaster to take a larger slice of digital terrestrial TV's success. Last week Ofcom statistics showed that Freeview has now overtaken Sky as the most popular digital television service, which has grown rapidly in the first three months of this year.

The UK broadcasting industry is going through an astonishing rate of change and in the past five years we’ve seen major developments in technology not last seen since the introduction of the colour TV. The impact on business is an extraordinary level of competition and a rush to develop new and exciting services and applications for customers. Sport is one area where the broadcasters can make significant inroads with customers, almost locking them in once they have access to content rights. Who will win out only time can tell…

Thursday, 21 June 2007

User experience is king

Saleha Williams, ANT Software’s Executive Vice President Commercial will be participating in a panel discussion at the TV Evolution Summit in Madrid (25 to 27 June). The event is about the future of the TV experience and Dr William Cooper of Informitv a discussion about how consumers are setting the pace of development for TV applications and content.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

ANT CEO Speaking at Broadcast Asia

ANT Software’s CEO Simon Woodward will be speaking at IPTV Forum at 15.45hrs at Broadcast Asia Expo on 21 June. His presentation is titled ‘Make or Break? The Power of User Interface on Entertainment Devices and Services’.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

IPTV "shot in the arm" for falling broadcast ad revenues?

A report published this week by the Advertising Association points to declining revenues for broadcasters in the UK. This follows reports in the US that broadcasters are struggling to sell commercial slots for the upcoming Autumn TV season with the impact of digital video recorders cited as a primary concern.

According to the Advertising Association broadcast ad revenues fell last year by 4.7 per cent from 2005 levels to £4.59 billion. Television has the second largest share of the total £19 billion UK advertising market at 24.1%, after print media with 43.7%.

So, another week and another set of statistics showing the decline in broadcast ad revenues. Audience fragmentation means now that the question is not whether it is a sustained downward trend but rather whether broadcasters can slow the decline.

As broadcasters move to IPTV platforms they will be able to target viewers in micro-segments and take advantage of interactive capabilities, creating a clear business case for advertisers. IPTV will prove to be a shot in the arm for broadcasters.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Operators need to provide new TV services much more quickly

Yesterday’s news that Comcast is to drop Microsoft’s cable-TV guide will not come as a shock to many. Operators across the world are realising that the ability to provide new TV services quickly and effectively could be a key differentiator in attracting and retaining consumers.

TV providers don’t want to be locked into technology solutions that provide little flexibility. In fact, we’re speaking to many operators who believe that only open standards client applications will enable them to take back control of when and how content is distributed. So, I think we’ll soon see a backlash against closed-systems.

The heart of the matter is that people want personalized TV, not just more TV. Content needs to be tailored and simple to access. Functionality needs to be easy to use and more importantly it needs to be relevant to the viewer.

Consumers in the future will expect more new and personalised services and many operators realise that they need to use open standards browsers in order to deliver these services to customers quickly and easily. Frequent introduction of new services is critical to operators keeping customers and increasing revenue.

Monday, 16 April 2007

ANT appoints industry heavyweights to spearhead digital TV push

ANT Software has appointed Saleha Williams and Stewart Palmer as it readies itself for a major push into the digital media market.

Williams joins as Executive VP Commercial from the BBC Technology / Siemens, where she was responsible for setting up and driving the Siemens media and telco business in Asia. Palmer is appointed Engineering Director after joining ANT from Conditional Access company Irdeto.

Williams is already defining and implementing ANT’s strategic business and communications strategy to be publicly launched in Las Vegas at NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) in April. She has over 16 years global experience having worked with numerous market leaders including BSkyB, Vodafone, BT, 3 and IBM.

Palmer has also worked with a number of leading industry players, including Pace and Irdeto. His role will be to direct ANT’s product and engineering solutions in response to the wider digital media market needs.

Monday, 9 April 2007

ANT to launch standard for TV content application development at NAB

ANT Software will launch the industry’s first standard for TV content application development at NAB next week (16 April). The standard eliminates the need for discrete versions of media applications to be produced for different client devices. It will also announce that two major industry players are on board to support the standard, paving the way for a revolution in content application development.

In addition, ANT Software will reveal a repositioning of the company at NAB. The move is designed to capitalise on the company’s existing strengths and help it broaden its reach into the wider digital media market.

Monday, 8 January 2007

Tiscali cuts Italian IPTV service

On the eve of New Year, Tiscali announced that it will no longer continue its IPTV service in Italy, much to the surprise of its 50,000 customers. Already, Tiscali's exit has caused remarks about the state of the company’s position in the IPTV and broadband market and whether it will seize significant stronghold in the highly competitive UK market. Both Telcos and ISP operators like Sky, Virgin and Vodafone are increasingly towering over with better integrated network bundles.

Tiscali cuts Italian IPTV service

On the eve of New Year, Tiscali announced that it will no longer continue its IPTV service in Italy, much to the surprise of its 50,000 customers. Already, Tiscali's exit has caused remarks about the state of the company’s position in the IPTV and broadband market and whether it will seize significant stronghold in the highly competitive UK market. Both Telcos and ISP operators like Sky, Virgin and Vodafone are increasingly towering over with better integrated network bundles.

Sunday, 7 January 2007

Tiscali cuts Italian IPTV service

On the eve of New Year, Tiscali announced that it will no longer continue its IPTV service in Italy, much to the surprise of its 50,000 customers. Already, Tiscali's exit has caused remarks about the state of the company’s position in the IPTV and broadband market and whether it will seize significant stronghold in the highly competitive UK market. Both Telcos and ISP operators like Sky, Virgin and Vodafone are increasingly towering over with better integrated network bundles.