Thursday, 29 October 2009

Chatting With Sky Player

After a rocky start, Sky Player is now live on the Xbox 360. Sky Player will enable consumers to use their Xbox live service to access movies, sport and entertainment on demand and stream a selection of channels live.

In addition to live streaming and VoD services, some interesting social features have been added, which allow consumers to interact with their friends using avatars in a virtual living room. When in the room you can text and chat using the Xbox headset in a similar way to what we’ve seen when playing games online using Xbox live.

Such social applications and widgets are set to be popular for both TV viewers and gamers alike. But, with most consumers opting to view VoD services through iDTV’s and set-top boxes, will chat applications struggle to reach the masses through a games console?

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Netflix build on VoD Strategy

Netflix and Sony’s announcement that US owners of PS3’s will soon be able to access the Netflix “Watch Instantly” service via their games consoles, builds on an existing strategy by games console providers to move TV content onto the console.

While the initial implementation isn’t necessarily the smoothest - the consumer must put a special disk into the console whenever they wish to access the service. It is another example of a Video on Demand service targeted at the TV.

Netflix already run the “Watch Instantly” service through Blue-ray players, TiVo and the Roku box.

The question is, how much of the VoD market can the game console providers grab?

Friday, 16 October 2009

Magic of iPlayer

Generations of British children have grown up with some of the most creative and best loved children's programmes in the world. But what is in store for the children of tomorrow? The creator of Grange Hill, Brookside and Hollyoaks, Phil Redmond, gave his view on the future of children's television on the BBC.

This very introduction, lead me to iPlayer and Phil Redmond’s 50 minute talk by the Royal Television Society. I was engaged from start to finish, apart from feeling that I was listening to Ringo Star (Beatles!) with a very dry sense of humour. I was impressed not only with his fantastic story telling, but by the absolute drive and passion of Phil for articulating the need for an environment that continues to prioritise the creation and delivery of content that children would engage, relate to and be enthused by in years to come.

I can’t do justice to the whole lecture, but wanted to highlight a few key snippets:

Phil talked about today’s children being submersed in their Xbox Live and online experiences, such as Facebook and how a broadcaster needs to build content to compete with these new mediums. For example, why will tomorrows 14-year-old tune into a broadcast channel, instead of logging onto the web. We are all working towards bring these world’s together!

This question though, is a good lead into a core debate for UK broadcasters; the role of a public service broadcaster verses a commercial broadcaster. Phil drew the comparison very well, centred around children’s programming, he captured beautifully that the BBC Trust see’s “Children’s Programming at the heart of the Public Service remit”, whilst in contrast drew reference a recent statement from Sky’s Chief Executive, James Murdock, that “the only reliable, durable, and perpetual guarantor of independence is profit”

The world of television is moving very quickly, policy, standards and technology have a significant role in creating the environment to allow creative and compelling services to be brought to the broadcast and emerging online screens. However, Phil reminded me that a balance always has to be in place between content that engages and informs our society as much as it entertains.

At a personal level, the many early mornings of sitting on the sofa with my children over the last 11 years, has been made much easier by the rich, engaging and educational programming available from the BBC’s Children’s channels... Cbeebies and CBBC...

Anyway, if you have a spare 50 minutes, this is a must watch.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

TV 1 Web 0

The results are in. England not only lost to the Ukraine, but the match didn’t attract its expected viewing figures. Although, Kentaro and Perform (the two businesses involved in the project) have not given detailed viewing figures, they have stated that the match attracted less than half a million. Less than half the capacity it had reserved. Not surprising really given that England fans were not captured by the move away from the TV to the web.

On the plus side, the infrastructure stood up to the test relatively well. Virgin reported a 10% increase in traffic on the same time for the previous week, which caused no problems apparently. But, it is the idea of watching the big match on the PC that fans struggled with.

Friday, 9 October 2009

England V Ukraine: TV V Web

If you want to watch Fabio Capello’s team take on Ukraine, you’ll have to stay away from the pub and go online. After the collapse of Setanta, the UK rights have been purchased by digital media company Perform. It’s not necessarily a surprising move in an age where the UK audience is familiar with catching up on programmes using iPlayer. However, it hasn’t been well received by the majority of football fans.

The subscription will be limited to one million streams, which in viewing numbers will equate to around 2.5 Million. However, I’ll be surprised if they reach that limit. There are of course some interesting partnerships being explored here, Odeon will be showing the match in some of its Cinema’s for example.

As for the match itself, well it’s not that important given that England have already qualified for next year’s World Cup. No surprise then that BBC, ITV, SKY or Five didn’t break the bank to get the rights for this one.

For me the TV is still holds the crown as the most powerful medium when it comes to mass viewing but as we move towards web and TV harmonization will the TV remain the platform of choice for consumers?

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Augmented Reality

Not so long ago, the notion of mixed reality was something that only materialised in science fiction films. However, as time passes, the virtual world and the technology surrounding it are fast evolving.

It’s clear that there’s a lot of hype around Augmented Reality (AR) and it has captured the imagination of next generation developers and manufacturers.

This is a sort of stuff that could potentially bring the interaction between technology and the human even closer.

It seems the innovation behind AR is developing fast and becoming applicable to nearly everything to do with consumer electronics and gaming. Just last week, a company called SPRXmobile revealed Layar, an augmented reality browser with 3D capabilities, as demonstrated below.