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…