Monday, 22 December 2008

Consuming Content Differently

A record 15 million people may have tuned into watch the final of X Factor last weekend, I wasn’t one of them.

We headed out to the supermarket for a spot of pre-Christmas shopping. While the rest of the country was tuned to the Grand Final, the shopping isles of Tesco were completely empty.

When they got home around an hour after the show had sta
rted they were able to skip the adverts and annoying pre-song interviews thanks to the joys of a PVR.

I wonder how many other viewers opted for a similar tactic it’s just so easy to do, as a consumer this makes a lot of sense but for the advertisers paying for prime time exposure this isn’t what they want to see.

Friday, 19 December 2008

ITV in Catch Up rebrand

Almost 12 months to the day that the BBC launched iPlayer, ITV is renaming its on demand offering. From today the ITV platform currently know as Catch Up will go by the moniker of ITV Player. The service allows punters to view a selection of the best ITV shows for 30 days.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Undocumented TV support for the iPhone

Both the Apple iPhone and iTouch have TV support but it hasn’t been published as part of the specification. So how do we know? According to Make Magazine, the developers of Moto Chaser, a motorbike race game, set up a demo of the iPhone's video-out capabilities in only an afternoon after being set a challenge.

Using the undocumented MPTVOutWindow class and iPod A/V cables, it's possible to program an iPhone to have television output. What's cool about this is that since the iPhone be both the game platform and a controller, since it contains Wiimote-like accelerometer features.

Neat eh?

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Channel 4 targets students with niche ads via IPTV

Channel 4 is the first commercial terrestrial broadcaster to launch targeted advertising via one of the UK's main IPTV services, Inuk. Ads will be carried around Channel 4 content on the IPTV network and specifically target students.
From our perspective, it’s an important step and one that the industry has been talking about for some time. Yet it’s still only scratching the surface of what’s possible with targeted advertising. Using students as a test bed is, however, a great way to trial the technology with a very media savvy audience. How will the 80,000 students who subscribe to the network respond? The proof is in the pudding so they say. So let’s see what news emerges from Channel 4 over the coming weeks and months.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

ITV takes on advertising challenge with Graffiti Advertising

ITV has made a bold move in developing a new form of unavoidable advertisement, nicknamed “Graffiti Advertising,” that can be embedded in television programmes. But ITV isn’t the only broadcasting industry player to be concerned about declining advertising revenues. In the US, cable networks and DVR makers have also been testing "speed bumps" that show an advertisement during fast-forwarding and billboards that appear on paused screens. Many more service providers and broadcasters must address the challenge of generating advertising revenue in the rapidly changing world of TV.

ITV has identified the ongoing challenges in attracting traditional advertising revenues, citing the rise of personal video recording and the fast-forward button as a significant contributing factor. The broadcaster is now trialing new technology, known as “automatically placed overlay advertising”, which uses complex computer algorithms to find clear space, such as blue sky or blank walls, in video footage in which to display advertising logos or messages.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Gartner reports further IPTV growth

Gartner has published a report which predicts that worldwide IPTV subscriptions will rise sharply; reaching nearly 20 million by the end of 2008. The uptake of IPTV in Europe has always been strong and, unsurprisingly, the research shows that the largest number of subscribers are based in Western Europe.

This latest research reflects a pattern we’re seeing at ANT. Whilst at IBC earlier this month we witnessed a marked change in the discussions we were having with visitors to the ANT stand. Operators are now far more focussed on what they want to deliver and when their new services will launch. These discussions quickly lead to conversations regarding the next round of applications for IPTV. ANT demonstrated a portal approach at IBC which allows you to access online photos, videos and radio stations in addition to core TV applications such as the EPG. The introduction of on-screen chat whilst watching sporting events also proved to be popular among visitors to the stand. These new and innovative community based applications are set to drive the next generation of IPTV deployments.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Ofcom report signals UK appetite for IPTV technology

Ofcom published its annual Communications Market Report 2008 report yesterday. One of its key finding is that there is a huge demand amongst UK consumers for features delivered by IPTV. It comes on the heals of BARB’s research which showed that on demand services weren’t denting traditional TV services.

But Ofcom reckons that viewers are watching programmes when they want and how they want, rather than just relying on the TV schedules. Time shifting and over the top services delivered via the Internet are both on the rise.

The proportion of people with an internet connection who are watching TV programmes online more than doubled from 8 to 17 per cent in twelve months. The BBC iPlayer, which enables viewers to watch programmes up to a week after they were broadcast, delivered more than 700,000 daily video streams in May 2008.

Nearly a third of internet users (32 per cent) watched video clips and webcasts in 2007, compared to a fifth (21 per cent) in 2006. The number of UK internet users who watched YouTube, reached 9 million in April this year, nearly 50 per cent more than a year ago.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

TV catch-up services fail to dent traditional viewing in the UK

Web video catch-up services such as the BBC iPlayer aren’t eating into traditional TV viewing despite their growing popularity, according to a report for ratings body BARB. Audiences watched an average of 2.34 hours of commercial broadcasts between January and June, up 4 per cent on last year. Meanwhile, commercial broadcasters are still looking for ways to generate revenues from these early web offerings.

Thinkbox, which conducted the research on behalf of BARB, says that both broadcast and online TV platforms are growing simultaneously underlining how they fulfill different needs for viewers and that they can co-exist and indeed promote each other.

Whilst online TV is only used by a fraction of the viewers that watch traditional broadcast TV, it’s clear that this is a growing market and can bring value to advertisers looking to reach niche audiences in the long term. However, advertisers face a big challenge in that they’ll need to find new, creative methods for capturing viewers’ attention via this relatively new medium.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Beijing Olympics: A test for TV

The Beijing Olympic Games will surely be a test for the TV industry. For the first time in Olympic history, there will be complete global online coverage of the events.

Major broadcasters such as NBC and BBC, technology providers like Adobe and Microsoft and content networks like Google's Youtube are all getting ready for the online battle.The Athens 2004 Olympics broke all global TV viewing records with near 4 billion unique people watching the games at least once, and a cumulative audience at around 40 billion. However, at that time online broadcast coverage was only available to a few territories.

But times are a-changing. This will be the first games when online streaming video will be availabile to mass audiences. NBC will offer more than 2,000 hours of live video coverage and 3,000 hours of on-demand video on its website. The BBC holds the exclusive rights for the Olympics content in the UK and will bring daily highlights to its iPlayer service. Meanwhile, Youtube has managed to get the rights for online video coverage of the event in the 77 territories that aren't officially covered by Olympic sponsors.

The increasing popularity of streaming video combined with the expectations raised by the Beijing Games will surely boost web traffic and possibly be the greatest test the broadcast and telco industries have faced to date.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Chinese tune into IPTV ahead of Olympics

Chinese tune into IPTV ahead of Olympics

Telco operators in China are experiencing record numbers of new subscribers signing up to their IPTV services ahead of the Beijing Olympic Games next week, say reports in the Shanghai Morning Post.

China Telecom is estimated to be receiving around 3,000 applications for IPTV services each day, thanks in part to a replay function that allows users to revisit programmes aired within the past 48 hours. Shanghai Telecom has also said that it will promote a new service during the Olympics that will enable viewers to watch different sporting events on different windows in the same screen.

Limited content has previously been cited as one of major factors for slower IPTV uptake in China. The Olympic Games will be the first major test for IPTV in China so all eyes will be on the major operators…as well as the athletes, of course;-)

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Standards For TV

ANT leads a pack of companies that is lining up to deliver open standards for TV appliances according to a new report by ABI Research.

While PC and consumer electronics giants fight it out to deliver hardware into the living room there is no argument about the software standard to render content to the screen.

The report titled Web-Based Living Room User Interface Overview says that the supply chain for the TV industry is consolidating around HTML-based content services and sees these as the next major revenue opportunity.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Microsoft Opens Up

Microsoft has released the Beta version of its Mediaroom Presentation Framework. The company has made it available to nearly 150 businesses worldwide enabling operators to design their own IPTV-based services applications either directly or through third parties.

Microsoft has finally realised that opening up to third party developers is important in helping to move the industry forward. The company has taken a lot of stick from industry competitors in the past regarding the closed nature of its Mediaroom IPTV solution. However, this latest move is great news for operators, vendors and content developers alike. Open standards are critical in helping service providers deliver the next wave of innovative TV applications.

ANT has been advocating the important of standards for IPTV for some time and is an active member of the Open IPTV Forum. Richard Baker, Executive VP of Sales and Marketing at ANT, talks about it at length in a recent interview with Tracy Swedlow for

Friday, 9 May 2008

Is the Long Tail the wrong tail in IPTV?

This week, the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM) convention took place in San Francisco, where the impact of digital media on the music industry was the focus. The group, which represents music retailers, including record stores and e-tailers, discussed how trends such as file sharing and the rise in the power of the consumer has changed the way the general public consumes content. Initiatives such as Radiohead’s album ‘giveaway’ last year and Coldplay’s recent fee downloadable single has showed that free downloadable content can work side-by-side with traditional retail methods.

In relation to IPTV, it was highlighted on the
Telecom View website that the industry will not really become mainstream unless distributors and marketers include the channel as a tactic rather than something to fight against, much like the music industry has (to some extent). Therefore, distributors would release content via video-on-demand services at the same time as DVDs – rather than viewing the medium as an afterthought. Blockbusters will continue to be the main attraction for viewers. However, we think that the main strength of IPTV is its almost unlimited capacity. Storing content for niche, micro audiences is key and high volume of downloads for this type of media will result in the success of IPTV, not the huge number of downloads for the latest Harry Potter movie. It’s often easy to forget that IPTV can be much more than ‘regular TV on the PC’. The technology can allow us to interact with programmes in a variety of ways never seen before.

Friday, 4 April 2008

On-demand services to generate over $1 billion by 2012

According to a new report by Screen Digest, the on-demand media services will generate $1.1 billion consumer spending by 2012.

Screen Digest says that of this figure, two thirds will be new revenue while the rest will replace traditional DVD spending. The fact that two thirds of the revenue will be new money shows that on-demand services can and will offer something different than merely pushing out more TV.

New technologies will enable better ways in which to search, locate and consume content and will invariably mean additional content becoming available to the consumer following the long tail rule.

Let’s hope that the additional content does not mean more variations on the reality TV shows that dominate the UK TV schedule.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Consumer connection is driver for IPTV market

The ability to provide direct feedback to advertisers makes IPTV a compelling platform according to a new report on the IPTV market (PDF download).

The management consultant claims that consumers are confused by definitions of IPTV and says that the most viable strategy is most likely to a hybrid approach made-up of delivery over platforms such as digital terrestrial, satellite or cable and broadband.

Technology aside, operators need to focus on a marketing led solution with advertising and content critical to success according to the 24-page report titled ‘Show me the money’.

The report cautions that this requires thinking beyond premium content and exploitation of the long tail. Ultimately it claims that the opportunity to provide a proactive feedback mechanism to advertisers will drive new commercial models.

France dominates IPTV

France is the vanguard of IPTV in Europe according to a research report from Informa Telecoms & Media (via VNU) with more than 10 times as many subscribers than second-placed Spain. Europe hit 7.9 million IPTV subscribers in 2007, with France making up more than 75 per cent of this total, where France Telecom, Free, Neuf and Telecom Italia have attracted more than 5 million customers.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008


The ANT team will be demonstrating its new Intelligent User Interface
(UI) design at IPTV World Forum at Olympia, London kicking off tomorrow, and running through to Friday.

At the core of this new UI is a function that builds a profile of the user behavior based on the viewing habits which can be logged by ANT Galio, ANT's next generation platform for TV delivery. Every remote control key press is processed by ANT Galio meaning this information can be logged and used to help filter the mass of content available.

ANT has also explored how broadcasters can launch bespoke creative advertising and sponsorship initiatives that are not possible through regular broadcast channels.

If you're at the show drop by and see us on stand 163.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Upswing for Sony?

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) sets the outlook for the electronics industry for the coming 12 months.

This year didn't disappoint. Warner Bros. announced that it is to discontinue the HD-DVD format, effectively pledging allegiance to Blu-ray. And although Toshiba put a brave face on it at the time, the announcement has culminated in Toshiba surrendering the next-generation DVD format war to Sony.

Maybe now we can move away from the tedious characterisation used by virtually all the analysts in describing the general public as being "confused" by the format wars. To my mind, there was no confusion, just frustration.

The public was never confused by which format was the right one to buy - they were very clear that they shouldn't buy until the war was declared over.

So what do we expect moving forward? Sony will increasingly push PS/3 as a triptych offering games, DVDs and online content. Especially given rumours of the Blu-ray spec being revamped to make the Ethernet socket mandatory, thus favouring the PS/3 over all the other stand-alone Blu-ray players.

Microsoft is left with a painful decision: either it concedes 360 does not compete with PS/3 for playing high def DVDs or it coughs up the Sony tax.

For now, Microsoft appears disinclined to pay such a tax and Paramount has announced further online content availability for the 360. But does this give Sony a three-legged chair to Microsoft's two-legged equivalent?

Monday, 11 February 2008

Global IPTV Market to reach 103 million in 2011

A new report by Research and Markets has revealed that the global IPTV market is expected to reach 103 million subscribers by 2011.

With the nature of IPTV meaning that audiences are much more fragmented, some marketers will not be keen on facing this challenge. However, it would be ill-advised to ignore the 103 million consumers that will be part of the IPTV audience. Some forget that this is not television in a different box at different times – IPTV is a revolutionary new medium where the potential to tinker and play with more creative and involved messages surpasses what was available before.

A cross between the personalisation, individuality and technology of the blogging and internet community crossed with the mass market potential of mainstream TV – IPTV is missing one thing at the minute though - creative marketers ready to take a chance and explore this medium.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

BBC iPlayer fuelling IPTV growth

According to Screen Digest (as reported in today’s Guardian Unlimited), more than 1.5 billion TV shows and specialist programmes will be downloaded or streamed this year fuelled by the success of the BBC’s iPlayer service.

Screen Digest reports that the BBC’s on-demand video services, including the seven month old iPlayer service accounted for 30 per cent of UK’s free-to-web-services. Admittedly, I’m a huge fan of the BBC’s service. Trying to maintain a healthy work-life balance means that I can’t always stay up to watch Curb your Enthusiasm or the Might Boosh. With that in mind the service is a Godsend.

We are already hearing rumblings over the cost of the bandwidth for the current level of iPlayer viewership, so it will be interesting to see how it plays out if the predicted growth does indeed happen (this goes back to the net neutrality debate previously discussed).

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Game on

The latest news from the Microsoft camp at CES is that users of BT's combo broadband/movies BT Vision service will be able to view their service through Xbox 360s by mid-2008. The plan is that the XBox will become a media hub over time, although the lack of a Freeview Tuner still needs to be addressed.

Convergence of gaming platforms and IPTV is something that could potentially take-off, especially with younger audiences, with one box solving all your media needs. However, BT’s platform has yet to reach initial projections in the UK so the tie-up could struggle from the out set. This does, however, leave plenty of opportunity for other gaming companies to get in on the action early through their own strategic partnerships.

Friday, 4 January 2008

BBC says IPTV hot for 2008

The BBC has named IPTV as one of the hot technologies in the UK for 2008.

More than half of homes in the UK now have sufficiently speedy broadband connection for IPTV services according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

BT and Virgin Media have both established services but O2, Orange and Tiscali UK are expected to follow according to the BBC.

For its part the BBC will continue to push its over the top iPlayer service which allows users to view to catch up TV programmes over the web.

The UK now has the potential to catch up with successful high-profile European deployments such as France Telecom and Telecom Italia.