Wednesday, 22 December 2010

UK consumers left confused by new TV technology

ANT recently conducted a mystery shopper exercise in 10 of the UK’s leading high street retailers to see how consumers are advised on TV purchasing. The results of the experiment were announced today.

The study brought to light the problems shoppers face when looking to buy a new TV. For example, only half the stores were aware that their shops sold connected televisions, meaning that customers could be missing out on new TV technology because shop representatives haven’t received sufficient product training. Not only this but a third of shops visited, despite actively promoting bargain deals on TVs, had no staff members available to advise customers on the benefits of the different types of TV technologies.

Freeview HD has been heavily promoted this year but when asked whether an HD television with built-in Freeview would deliver Freeview HD, not one member of staff identified that in order to take advantage of this the viewer must live in a HD-enabled area.

It’s an exciting time for TV with technology constantly evolving, but inaccurate advice from shop staff is fuelling consumer confusion. Retailers need to understand the type of features that are important to customers, and must train staff in order to support customers when they turn to them for advice.

About the mystery shopper experiment:
ANT conducted a mystery shopper experiment, visiting 10 of the UK’s leading high street retailers: Argos, Comet, Dixons, Curry’s, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, John Lewis, Selfridges, PC World and Richer Sounds. The experiment was conducted in December 2010. The same experiment may yield different results if repeated at a different time.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Humax HD Fox T2: One to watch for 2011

As it nears the end of 2010, the annual ‘best of’ lists are being unveiled and Humax’s latest product enhancements haven’t gone unnoticed. The Register has picked its HD Fox T2 for its ‘The Years Best’ list and draws attention to the imminent arrival of BBC iPlayer and Sky Player to the Humax Portal. ANT has been heavily involved in the addition of both of these services to the Humax Portal which, based on the ANT Galio Platform, will be hitting the UK market very soon. Watch this space for more information in 2011.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Press the ‘Yellow button’ for personalised Local TV news services

UK On-demand TV services could soon be personalised to deliver consumers content targeted at local communities. Under new government plans, local TV news services could be tailored to towns and cities as well as larger regions currently covered by programmes such as ‘South East Today’ and ‘East Midlands Today’.

The services could be rolled out as early as 2012. Initially they will be start on ordinary channels such as 6 or 106, however they could soon be available through the ‘yellow button’. Delivery through an application or widget will provide users with much more flexibility to browse content, and if successful, the ‘yellow button’ could become synonymous with news as the ‘red button’ has with on-demand.

These types of new services represent a new era in how we consume TV content. At the same time it’s essential that broadcasters keep the viewer in mind when developing these new applications. With 118 million TV’s predicted to ship in 2014, broadcasters and services manufactures now have the opportunity to deliver targeted on demand services that haven’t previously been possible. It’s an exciting time for consumers as long as we strike the right balance.

Friday, 10 December 2010

TiVo Returns to the UK

Virgin Media’s eagerly anticipated TiVo set-top box was made available for pre-order last week, and it’s up take will be carefully monitored by many industry analysts. The set-top box will enable consumers to access an interesting mix of applications, content and services.

TiVo is a leading brand in the US, however its previous UK partnership with SKY in 2000 was short-lived. So Virgin Media will be hoping for a more positive response from the market with this new offering.

The TiVo service makes recommendations to viewers based on their previous programme choices. The new box also has a ‘Wish List’ feature where the consumer can add keywords and then all relevant programmes will be added to their personalised list. It also boasts an EPG that goes back 7 days, a feature that YouView also hopes to roll out in 2011. In a market where the level of media content is rapidly rising, personalisation is a key strategy in harmonising broadcast and broadband content for viewers. By working with TiVo Virgin Media is addressing this growing need for ‘personalised’ TV.

Virgin Media commented that the UK audience was perhaps not ready for the full internet experience on their TV screens, a concept that we’ve discussed many times on this blog – the internet experience needs to be tailored for the TV. Virgin Media appear to have addressed this by ensuring consumers can easily navigate the new user interface with preinstalled TV widgets such as YouTube, eBay and iPlayer.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Christmas dinner on the box

Most of us have our favourite TV advert – one that we remember from childhood or one which has particularly stuck in our mind. The Bisto advert for example, or the classic Coke Christmas advert are ones which instantly spring to mind.

Today, in a world saturated in brand advertising, the challenge for marketers is a little different. As consumers become more familiar with technology, brands need to go beyond nifty straplines or a happy Santa Claus to stand out from the crowd. As a result, experiential advertising is on the rise.

This Christmas Waitrose is taking TV advertising to the next level and giving consumers something more, with its series of adverts with celebrity chefs Delia Smith and Heston Blumenthal. Rather than just watching and absorbing, TV viewers can now engage with the brand by taking a photo on their mobile of a Quick Response code, which will appear at the end of each advert. The barcode will allow them to download a new Christmas app for free, to access recipes, an advent calendar and other tools.

This is an interesting step away from traditional TV advertising and an attempt to interact with audiences beyond the 30 seconds of an advert and after they switch off their TV.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Global growth for on-demand services

Global revenues from on demand video services are set to rise by as much as 24 per cent by the end of this year, despite the decline in TV subscriptions. This is according to new research from Informa Telecoms & Media this week.

On-demand services have enjoyed a phenomenal success in the UK this year, the BBC iPlayer received 139 million requests for TV and radio programmes last month. Not only this but viewers have been accessing the content across a wide range of platforms, including Virgin Media, Wii, PS3, computing and mobile platforms, confirming that viewers want to consume their content in more than just the traditional formats.

The majority of on-demand services still come from cable TV subscriptions (around 51%), which is expected to rise as more viewers make the switchover to digital services. However, there are likely to be changes in the platforms viewers can access on-demand content. At the recent Morgan Stanley TMT conference, ITV’s chief executive Adam Crozie, commented on its plans to create a new micropayments system, so it can sell its content across a wider range of platforms and reduce its dependence on advertising revenues.

But, to be successful in any of its target platforms, ITV will need to invest in creating popular new content. Something they are clearly keen to address, with the recent appointment of Denise O’Donoghue to lead commercial strategy at production arm ITV Studios.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

What would you vote for?

As TV viewers get to grips with a new era of interactive TV delivered by hybrid STBs and connected TV’s we’re also seeing developments in the smartphone market. A new ruling by Ofcom means that viewers will now be able to vote on their favourite TV Shows via mobile applications.

TV shows such as the X Factor and Big Brother have always encouraged viewers to interact via telephone and text voting. But now smartphones are set to get in on the action too, with the development of voting apps.

Ofcom is keeping a close eye on developments. Viewers will be clearly notified of the costs and in order to keep everything fair, the app should only be one of several voting possibilities so that consumers are not pushed towards a particular platform.

It’s almost a surprise that this has taken so long, although the highly publicised fake phone-in scandal in 2007 may well have played a part in the delay.

This is another interesting new development for the mobile and TV industries and as app developers look to create new content, perhaps more interactive apps can be shared between the TV and mobile. What new apps would you like to see?

Friday, 5 November 2010

Every penny counts – credit crunch helps drive digital TV sales

18 months ago, as consumers we were being inundated with credit crunch survival tips – how to save more, go out and spend less, or make our nights in more entertaining. For the digital TV market at least, it seems, the latter has proved extremely fruitful.

New research released by Informa Telecoms & Media has found that despite the global economic downturn, the uptake of digital TV around the world has continued to grow. By December 31st this year, Informa calculates that approximately 85 million TV households will be added bringing the global total to 517 million. It predicts the digital TV universe to be one billion digital households strong by the end of 2015.

Staggering stats like this bring to life the huge transformation taking place in the TV industry today as new technologies change the way in which we receive and consume TV content. But what also really strikes me is how the results of this study highlight the prominence of the TV in global society.

In the interests of saving money, more people have turned to nights at home in front of the box, especially in the last couple of years. But with the rise of digital, our viewing experience has changed significantly to include on-demand, interactive red button features and tailored content – a world away from the TVs of old. Making staying in, the new going out.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Who’s in control of connected TV?

Google is the most recent brand to target the connected TV market, with its ‘Google TV’ offering announced earlier this month. The FT featured an interesting review of its hardware solutions this morning, raising the issue of navigation between TV and web services via both the user interface and TV hardware. Do consumers want a computer style keyboard to navigate connected TV services, or would they prefer a more traditional remote control?

One of the first Google-based products to reach the market requires a keyboard to navigate its interface but it’s unlikely that consumers want another piece of technology hardware cluttering up their sitting room when in other areas, technology devices are becoming increasingly streamlined.

Service providers should look to make the convergence of broadcast and broadband media as seamless as possible. This is an area that Dr Rob commented on in a previous blog earlier this year. It’s about quality not quantity, consumers don’t want more choices, they want better choices. As television becomes increasingly interactive, the key is to make navigating the features as simple as possible, to enable the customer to get the most out of their viewing experience.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Service providers prepare for the increasing demand for on demand

On-demand players such as iPlayer and 4OD have enjoyed huge success in the last couple of years; catering to viewers’ increasingly busy lifestyles, on-demand content allows people to watch what they want, when they want. But the growing popularity of broadband delivered TV has led to a large increase in the volume of data traffic and concerns over net neutrality.

This week Alcatel-Lucent Velocix and TalkTalk have been the first to announce that they are developing a new dedicated Content Delivery Network (CDN) ahead of YouView’s launch next year. The CDN built by Alcatel-Lucent Velocix will run over TalkTalk’s existing high speed IP network.

The move by Alcatel-Lucent Velocix and TalkTalk indicates another turning point in how we as an industry are working to address the evolving landscape of TV. Is the roll-out of new CDNs something that all service providers should invest in or is it just a precautionary measure?

Friday, 1 October 2010

Sky kick start new era with 3D TV

Sky today announced the launch of its 3D channel
, marking a turning point in the TV viewing experience as 3D is well on the way to becoming a TV staple.

This shows that 3DTV is not just a flash in the pan and it’s now a force to be reckoned with. It has made the leap from the Big Screen into our living rooms transforming TV viewing for the future. However, whilst the 3D TV experience is impressive, it’s still a fairly expensive technology and viewers might need some convincing before they’re prepared to invest.

Recent research from Deloitte shows that only two per cent of British consumers plan to buy a 3D TV in the near future. And many viewers will have recently bought a new TV surrounding the HD TV hype.

In order to convert the mass market, content is key. And with promises to broadcast 14 hours a day in 3D, Sky are clearly in a strong position to kick start this new TV era. With TV fast gaining pace with the technologies of the Big Screen, the way is paved for an all encompassing viewing experience.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Digital killed the video star

The Institute of Engineering and Technology announced the results of a new survey today, which indicates that vinyl, film and video tape are in decline, as British households become dedicated to digital.

We don’t think that the death of vinyl, film and video tape is something that should be wept. A new and exciting entertainment era is emerging, with television at the heart. The TV is no longer just a box in the living room that plays out programmes dictated by the broadcaster. Today’s TV experience is an opportunity to interact with an explosion of content created for the digital world. Viewers can shape their own viewing experience – whether through video-on-demand and catch up TV services, red-button features or unseen DVD style extras such as behind the scenes footage.

The traditional passive experience of TV viewing is evolving to an interactive experience, with an increasing number of online applications converging onto our TV sets and the inclusion of services such as the BBC iPlayer and Sky Player. The combination of traditional broadcast viewing mixed with new on-demand web based TV services means the possibilities for consumers are endless. What would you like to see on your TV Set-top box or iDTV?

Friday, 17 September 2010

Project Canvas announces ‘YouView’

This week Project Canvas marked the next phase in its development, announcing the brand name for its connected TV offering. ‘YouView’ will be a free-to-air service and will launch in H1 next year, delivering viewers digital TV, on-demand services and internet content.

YouView set-top boxes are set to include a variety of services including: a programme search function, a Personal Video Recorder (PVR) and an applications store.

The current Project Director Richard Halton has now been appointed as Chief Executive Officer and will be working with Chairman Kip Meek. Unsurprisingly, the news has drawn a fair bit of attention in the press, with Halton stating that the service will “change the way we watch TV for ever”. A slick video has been added to the homepage of the new YouView website, click here to watch it.

Monday, 13 September 2010

3D of old

3D was by far the biggest topic at IBC in 2009. However, this year the topic doesn't seem to have moved on much. Whilst there are plenty of 3D demos around the show, there isn’t anything new that blows you away.

The World Cup matches obviously make a debut, with the company logos and team sheets working well in 3D graphics. Yet, when the game kicks off, the 3D element is a distraction. It seems the best example to date is the U2 concert, which has been rolled out again for the show.

The point with 3D is that it won’t replace everyday viewing. It will work spectacularly well for elements of our viewing consumption. It is much more likely that we’ll be getting our glasses out twice a week, rather than every day.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

HbbTV playing out at IBC

Day 2 of IBC was a busy one once again. I’ve had little time to stray away from the ANT stand in hall 5 and have seen a host of companies supporting the HbbTV Standard. It was IBC 2009 where we first demonstrated a couple of HbbTV implementations on the EBU Stand, in the space of 12 months the initiative has progressed at an impressive pace with services already live in Germany.

This year at the ETSI booth in Hall 2 the first French HbbTV services are being demonstrated – marking another important milestone for the standard. If you’re at the show I recommend you take a look for yourself, the demonstration can be found at stand number 2.C29.

Friday, 10 September 2010

BBC iPlayer news at IBC 10

Greetings from Amsterdam! We’re excited to be at IBC once again, I’m pleased to report that the show floor is already buzzing. We’re keen to hear the big announcements as the show develops. But first, here’s one of our own:

The ANT Galio Platform now supports BBC iPlayer. We believe its availability on a device agnostic TV software platform is an important milestone for set-top box (STB) and connected TV manufacturers, as the TV industry strives to deliver more PC style catch-up video services.

We’re committed to giving consumers greater choice and improving the TV experience and this just one area where we are developing future functionality.

We’ll continue to update you on all IBC goings on and if you’re at the show yourself come down to stand 5.A03 – we would love to see you.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Skipping by the TV ads

Time shifted viewing has been on the cards since digital video recorders were invented with a fast forward button. So it’s unlikely to come as a surprise that time shifted viewing has more than tripled since 2006, from 1.7% to 5.9%, largely due to the growing use of DVRs such as Sky+ and Freeview+.

For the advertising industry, alarming figures are emerging - almost 90% of people skip through the adverts when watching recorded programmes. Despite this, Screen Digest upgraded its TV advertising forecast in March, predicting a 4.6 per cent year-on-year growth in the UK TV ad market during 2010.

So, why the contrast? TV commercials won’t die; they just need to get smarter. Shortening the length of the advert to adapt to the dwindling attention span should be the first port of call. And recognising that a good advert won’t just be watched on a TV screen. Think social - how can the advert appeal to networking sites and spark a viral phenomenon?

There is no doubt that the debate over the value of TV commercials will intensify as the digital television market expands. But, the simple fact is most of us can recall our favourite and most memorable TV commercials. What is yours?

Monday, 23 August 2010

Media content is king

According to a new report by Ofcom, “the average Briton spends almost half their waking life using media and communications”. This illustrates the huge influx of new media technologies that have been made available over the last few years. With each one making demands on the consumer’s time, multitasking has become a necessity in order to keep up. The report shows that people consume nearly nine hours of media and communications by using several devices at once, with television being the device people dedicate the most time to.

One of the reasons that television has maintained its popularity is that the medium has responded to evolving consumer behaviour. Popular TV services such as VOD, combined with the emergence of connected portals delivering additional content, have ensured that the TV remains the central point for consumption of digital media in the home. And, this is a role that it will maintain as TV continues to evolve to include internet access and social media applications.

This desire for more than just broadcast TV is supported by the Ofcom research, which highlights that consumers want to access and consume an increasing amount of digital media from a range of devices.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Hybrid TV over 3DTV

A recent survey from Nielsen has shown that internet connected TV is a higher priority for consumers than 3DTV. 22 per cent of those asked said that they had a broadband-enabled TV set-top box (STB) or intended to buy one, whereas only 12 per cent own or have plans to purchase a 3DTV in the next year.

This demonstrates that consumers clearly have an appetite for on-demand services, that can be accessed through walled gardens and portals on Connected TV’s and set-top boxes.

That said, it’s important to remember that 3DTV is still in the early stages, with the first 3D TV sets only available recently. Sky has already shown some of its football matches in 3D this year and with an increasing number of blockbusters being filmed in 3D, it is likely that it will continue to rise in popularity. But is there enough 3D content available to satisfy demand? As the survey shows, it is the TV content not the TV technology that consumers crave.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Award track for our HbbTV platform

We’re delighted that our ANT Galio HbbTV Platform has been shortlisted for the ‘Best interactive TV technology or application’ category at the Cable & Satellite International awards.

The ANT Galio HbbTV Platform enables device manufacturers and service providers to develop and deploy HbbTV (Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV) related applications and services to the home. Since its launch in September 2009 it has been licensed by a number of leading set-top box manufacturers, including CreNova, Humax, INTEK Digital, Kaonmedia, Kathrein, TechnoTrend Görler and Topfield.

We’re looking forward to attending the awards ceremony at IBC, which will take place on Friday 10th September from 6 to 7.30pm.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Connected-TV catches up in France

A new report from Nouveaux Paysages Audiovisuels Conseil (NPAC) has shown that more than a quarter of TV sets in France will be internet-enabled by 2012. Only 5% of TV sets currently have the ability to connect to the internet but this is expected to grow to 14% in 2011 and then 28% by 2012.

This growth is expected to be reflected globally, NPAC has predicted that by 2014 59% of TV sets will be connected to the internet. This growth is driven by increased viewer demand for access to both broadcast and online content via one centralised experience. The TV provides an ideal channel for these sources of rich media content, bringing on-demand and interactive content straight to the viewer in their living room.

The report also states that the “biggest winners with the arrival of connected TV will [be] non-linear services, like VOD and catch-up TV”. It is essential that broadcasters provide viewers with access to this ‘must have’ content, as this is what attracts and retains subscribers. But the presentation and delivery of the combination of online and broadcast services remains vital, merging the two into one seamless experience, is the key to unlocking the TV experience of the future.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Set-top box switchover

A new report published by IMS research this week shows that 200 million set-top boxes (STBs) were shipped during 2009, an increase of 50 million from the previous year.

This has been partly attributed to the analogue switch-off in the US. Although the report suggests that potential growth has been inhibited by the credit crunch and a decrease in disposable income people have available to invest in new technologies.

Sales are expected to continue to increase globally in 2010, with digital cable and satellite projects to roll out in both China and Europe. We also expect to see an increase in sales here in the UK with the digital switchover fast approaching, as we saw last week May was the first month on record that no analogue TV sets were sold in Britain.

As consumers increasingly demand more from their set-top box than just traditional broadcast content, device manufacturers must rise to the challenge to deliver new, applications and services to stand out in a crowded market. Content is of course key, but must be combined with a powerful underlying platform to deliver the new services. The user interface (UI) will need to evolve in tandem with this growth. Simplicity is vital for the new, converged UI in order for viewers to easily navigate this wealth of new content.

Friday, 9 July 2010

The Digital Age

It was reported this week that May was the first month on record that no analogue TV sets were sold in Britain. The traditional TV format is fading out, as the UK digital TV switchover in 2012 fast approaches.

The rise of Digital TV with additional channels, HD, a variety of STB functionality and the imminent arrival of 3D TV means the consumer has never had so many choices. The switch to digital also provides viewers with a wealth of new content. The number of digital TV channels available through cable, satellite, Terrestrial, IP and hybrid STBs continues to grow. Add to that the on-demand content and you’re bound to find something you want to watch!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

HbbTV specification approved by ETSI

The HbbTV (Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV) initiative announced two major milestone results today. Firstly Version 1.1.1 of its open standards platform, has now been approved by European standards agency, ETSI (listed as ETSI TS 102 796).

Secondly, the consortium’s membership charter, covering all areas from operational framework to membership policies, has now been signed by all founding members. This signals the formal establishment of the HbbTV consortium and will open HbbTV membership, enabling new participants to actively contribute to the development of the specification.

HbbTV is a pan-European initiative aimed at harmonising broadcast and broadband content through connected TVs and STBs. As a founding member, ANT has been dedicated to the development of HbbTV so we are especially pleased to see it reach these milestones and the continued support from across the industry.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

BBC Trust Approves Project Canvas

This week the BBC Trust gave final approval for the BBC to participate in Project Canvas.

Project Canvas aims to build an internet-connected TV platform, which will allow users to access on demand content as well as traditional broadcast content from the likes of ITV, Channel 4 and Five. It has also attracted support from ISPs BT and Talk Talk as well as communications infrastructure provider, Arqiva. It has been suggested that it may be marketed as ‘YouView’.

One of the main conditions of the BBC’s participation in the project is that the consortium must publish its ‘open’ technical specification within the next 20 days. Further details of the conditions can be found here.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Channel Four – a digital TV fairytale

The story that’s caught my eye this week is a report on how digital TV services are driving profit for ‘traditional’ broadcaster Channel Four.

After a tough financial year, the TV giant is attributing a small turn in profit to the growth of its digital programming schedule. This, for me, is a reflection of the real progress being made in evolving the TV viewing experience, as many flagship broadcasters here in the UK begin to turn the spotlight on digital services, and examine the real commercial value they could bring.

So, why have Channel Four’s digital TV services been so successful? With so many digital TV channels on offer today, consumers can become lost for choice. With its staple diet of popular programmes such as Hollyoaks and Skins, plus iconic sitcoms like Friends, E4 and E4+1 provide viewers with easy option viewing, knowing they’ll almost always find something they like. And, as on demand services continues to gather pace, the launch of 4od means that viewers can watch their favourite soap or get their Big Brother house fix, any time they like. Nicely done.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Whether it is factories in Bangladesh being asked to stop work to ensure there’s enough electricity for people to watch World Cup football on TV, or thousands of
British HD viewers complaining after an advert interrupted England’s first goal; the football viewing experience is firmly under the spot light.

While weekend matches are attracting crowds in the pubs, day time matches are tempting office workers to seek their football fix online. The online picture quality is pretty good and traffic to the top news websites peaked during the Mexico v South Africa game with 12.1 million visitors per minute. And, there are new TV viewing records being set. ITV said 20.1million tuned into the England/USA game (its highest viewing figures for four years).

So, what are we missing – apart from a win from our first game? Maybe, a pair of glasses and the next match in 3D. Sky has already started to screen some English football matches in 3D. But, what would a 3D viewing experience do for the World Cup? Let’s hope we find out in 2014.

Monday, 7 June 2010

First Ruling for On-Demand Advertising

There was an interesting ruling from the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) last month, when it was revealed that young children had been able to view an inappropriate advert when watching The X-Factor on ITV’s VOD service. The ruling stated that "adequate steps [were] not taken" to ensure that children did not see an advert which had been booked for post-9pm viewing.

This highlights the need for a different approach from broadcasters when distributing on-demand content. While a programme such as The X-Factor doesn’t require an on-screen warning when viewed on-demand, the adverts booked might.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Pay-TV market share movement

The number of IPTV subscribers in Europe is set to rise by 92% in next five years, according to a report from Analysys Mason. This will more than double the current number of subscribers from 15.4 million to 29.6 million.

These results show that IPTV is set to grow at a fast rate and is shaping up to take a 19% share in the pay-TV market by 2015. Analysys Mason is also expecting to see strong growth with pay-DTT (digital terrestrial television) subscriptions owning up to 11% of the pay-TV market in the next five years.

As these platforms display strong growth, there will of course be platforms that decline in market share, as the report states there will "inevitably be losers as well as winners during the next five years". Cable platforms will continue to dominate, although this is expected to decline to 41% and Satellite TV services are expected to lose out on their share by a 1% decline.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Will Google's TV search stand up?

M0les raised a good point in reply to my last post, about search.

Some years ago, I realised that Google had become the first place I looked for things on the web. Even when I knew which company’s website I wanted, a Google search saved me from having to remember the company’s website address. Then it hit me - if something doesn’t appear in the search results, then it might as well not exist.

More recently I’ve begun to notice that some things I know to exist don’t appear in the search results, especially for product searches. I’ve tried a few other search engines, but none offer me the perfect result I am looking for. I wonder, why is it not all there? Could it be in Google’s interests to show some results and not others?

Life is too short to be searching everywhere. If I want to find something - the latest album from my favourite band, for example - I don’t look in every shop to compare prices, I go to the shop I’ve bought from before, because I know they have reasonable prices and the service is good. If the service starts to slip, or prices creep up, then reluctantly I’ll invest the effort to find a new shop to trust. But, I don’t want to be doing that with every purchase. Life is too short.

For TV, it is the TV service operator that I trust to bring me good service. I trust them to present me with a manageable choice of quality content. A service that is suitable for my family’s viewing, makes the process convenient, gives me good value for money and introduces me to new things at a rate I can keep up with.

The question is, will Google TV give me that?

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Google TV

Talk of Google Android spreading from mobile onto TV is flying around the web. If it happens, what will determine whether "Smart TV" takes the lion's share, or whether it becomes yet another standard among many for connected TV?

Here are seven aspects to consider:

1. Parental Control
It must have parental control built in at the core. It's no good just having one big "content lock" at the entrance, dividing the world into adults and non-adults.

2. DRM
If it's to support a range of business models, it'll need a robust DRM mechanism to protect premium content.

3. Hybrid broadcast and IP
Most households will want to retain access to the broadcast channels that they're familiar with, and the combined experience of existing broadcast and new over-the-top services will work best if it's a unified service. If you have to switch the TV to a different input and use a different box, a number of people won't be bothered to make the transition. If the broadcast and over-the-top services are fully integrated though, that will encourage people to cross the threshold. If it's done well they won't even realise there is a threshold.

4. Quality, not quantity
Consumers don't want more choices, they want better choices. Having more choices means I spend more time looking for something and less time enjoying it. I would pay a premium to have someone else find what I want, so that I can spend the little free time I have to watch, not search.

5. Accuracy
Search results need to be correct! There's a really good Indian restaurant at the end of my road, but when I look on Google Maps I find it marked several streets away. I wonder how many people are Google Navigating their way to dinner and going hungry? Will there be the same problem with TV content searches?

6. Secure integration with other services
It'll need to manage my accounts - e.g. for social networks. I don't want to be logging in here, there and everywhere, again and again. And if it's managing my accounts, it needs to realise that several people use my TV, and give me confidence that it's holding my account details securely.

7. Progressive download
I have a relatively fast broadband connection, but it's not so fast during peak hours, such as in the evening when I want to watch TV. Services need to adapt to different network conditions if they're to reach a wide audience.

Progressive download is a great leveller. With a fast connection you get a true on-demand service with near-instant playback, and if the connection is too slow you may have to wait a while, but at least it's still possible to use the service, and the playback quality is not compromised.

Adaptive bitrate streams are another option, but if I pay to watch an HD movie, I won't be happy if it descends to webcam-level video during busy periods.

So, what does the market think? Will Google TV go mainstream?

Thursday, 13 May 2010

TV viewers want more interaction

A recent survey from Ensequence has shown that there is an increasingly large demand for interactive TV features, especially amongst sport fans and reality TV viewers. The survey shows that 70% of sports viewers would like to interact while watching a sport event. And that 74% of reality viewers and 55% of drama viewers would also want to interact with content. (The full list of statistics can be found here).

TV viewers from a wide and varied audience are looking for more interaction with their broadcast content. Many viewers are also interested in interactive advertising with 73% saying they would like to interact with TV commercials for a product they are interested in using their remote control.

Service providers must respond to this growing demand. There are many new exciting widgets and applications available that need to be made accessible to consumers. Especially when the report shows that 45% of TV viewers said they would “likely consider” changing from their service provider if another one was to offer interactive TV as well as content.

By adopting a hybrid approach, combing traditional broadcast programming functionality with new dynamic online services, Broadcasters are able to deliver compelling interactive experiences.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Support for HbbTV Continues

We’re delighted to see that there have been a couple of notable HbbTV announcements recently, demonstrating the momentum and support that is building for the initiative.

Firstly, the Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSA), the French government regulatory body for TV issues, has announced that it will support HbbTV for the launch of interactive services and applications on the DTT network, which it believes will be in early 2011. (For those who speak French, full details can be found here).

And secondly, the supporter’s page of the HbbTV website now includes over 50 organisations, a notable addition to the list being the UK Digital TV Group (DTG), further details here. The DTG is the industry association for digital television in the UK and is both independent and platform neutral. The Group is presently focused on emerging consumer devices and experiences including connected TV, high definition TV (HD) and catch-up TV services.

The HbbTV initiative was launched to provide an open platform for hybrid services, and as a founding member of the group, we’re pleased to see that support for HbbTV continues to grow.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

ANGA 2010

The ANGA Cable Show ( began yesterday in Cologne, Germany and runs until 6th May. If you’re attending the show and would like to see the ANT Galio Platform for yourself it’s being demonstrated on the IRT Stand (Booth Number K19), here you can see demonstrations from Humax, Kaon, INTEK and VideoWeb who are all demonstrating HbbTV implementations based on our software.

If you’d like to book a meeting with a member of the ANT team please email:

Friday, 30 April 2010

TV widgets & Managed Service Portals

A recent report from In-Stat has shown that there is expected to be considerable growth in TV widget revenue over the next few years, possibly generating up to US$ 1.7bn by 2013.

In the past 12 months we have seen a variety of exciting new TV widgets developed, which we’ve discussed on our blog, including: the Sky News App, a shopping widget from HSN and Comcast and Verizon launched a caller ID App.

As connected TVs evolve, consumers will have the opportunity to view more and more online content through TV Widgets and applications, which provide a streamlined mechanism to access a new wave of TV services. As the market develops it will be interesting to see how these applications will be delivered to enhance the consumer experience, either as a widget or via a managed service portal which has the capability to host a wide selection of applications and services.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

NAB – Numbers up and the odd new demo too

Due to the ash cloud drifting over Europe like many, I’ve yet to make it back from NAB. So I thought I’d take this as a chance to reflect on the show.

At this years NAB the ANT team were pleased to showcase a number of demonstrations including the ANT Galio suite, the ANT managed portal and an example of HbbTV in action. Although based in a private suite, we also made time to walk the floor of the show too and I was pleased to see that the show had a great turnout. Attendance numbers were up by around 6,000 this year, which is a positive sign for the industry.

While there wasn’t the usual flood of new innovations being showcased, I did particularly enjoy what Intek Digital was showcasing on its stand. Intek’s new STB has been developed to include a small OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) on the front. This was being used as both a touch screen and a second screen.

The example demonstrated was that while children are watching cartoons on the main TV, the STB can be recording a football match on another channel. Nothing exceptional there but what was impressive was the small screen on the front of the STB was simultaneously showing the football match. When a goal was scored you were able to switch the content from the small screen to the main TV, rewind the action and then watch the goal, before returning to the cartoon. As well as a nice idea it was delivered in a user friendly and stylish design.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

HD on-demand is in demand

Cable and telco IPTV operators are investing in both video on demand and streaming content server capacity in order to support on-demand HD content, according to a recent report from Infonetics. This highlights the increasing importance of ‘must have’ content for both Cable and IPTV operators.

On-demand content is enjoying huge popularity in the UK with the availability of platforms such as BBC iPlayer and 4OD. Between 2008 and 2009 world wide video on demand and streaming content server revenue increased by 60 per cent and is expected to continue to grow over the next year.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

IPTV sees its strongest year of growth yet

A recent report by Point Topic has shown that last year IPTV had its strongest year of growth to date, with 10.8mn new users globally subscribing to IPTV services.

Strong growth in the Asia-Pacific region is now thought to account for 32% of the global IPTV market. But the fastest growth was seen in the Americas with 58% more subscribers this year. And, although the Middle East & Africa have only recently adopted IPTV, the number of subscribers shows a significant growth of 11.8% more subscribers in 2009 than 2008.

Here in Europe we are also seeing a keen uptake of IPTV services. France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Russia are all in the top ten countries for IPTV adoption in 2009. Which Point Topic states is down to product bundles and keen competition.

We are pleased to be seeing the number of IPTV subscribers grow year on year, and look forward to the product innovations that will drive continuous growth in 2010.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

IPTV World Forum comes to a close

The last few days have provided us with a great opportunity to chat with others in the industry.

Speaking to Graham Pomphrey from Digital TV Europe this afternoon, an interesting point was raised about how exhibitors have been more realistic in their approach this year, moving from technologies that look attractive but will take a while before the market is ready for them to concentrating on showcasing technologies that are soon to be released.

This is something we were excited to do with HbbTV this year. As HbbTV has now gone to market in Germany and is used by consumers, we were able to showcase a live demonstration in the UK.

As IPTV World Forum 2010 has come to a close we look forward to seeing what technology innovations IPTV World Forum 2011 will bring.

Ben Lawrence
Marketing Communications Manager

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Day 2: #IPTV World Forum

Day two of IPTV World Forum. Numbers seem to be up on yesterday, with a good mix of attendees, ranging from partners and prospects to the journalist and analyst community.

I’ve managed to find a few minutes to look around the show today. The stands seem to be slicker and bigger, maybe just a little more polished than last year. And, there are even a few interesting stand additions. Most notably a rather cool blimp that is floating around filming the crowd and a weird life sized human-sized televised image of a woman.

Ben Lawrence
Marketing Communications Manager

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Taking in IPTV World Forum

It’s the first day of IPTV World Forum 2010 and it’s great to see that the number of exhibitors are up on last year.

The good news for ANT this year is we’ve seen a real buzz around HbbTV. Our live on stand demonstration of HbbTV services, such as news VoD (Video on Demand) from Tageschau and digital text and catch-up programming from ARD and ZDF (see image), have attracted a strong and varied crowd.

It’s been all go on the ANT stand all day today, but I hope to see more of the other stands tomorrow.

Ben Lawrence
Marketing Communications Manager

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

HD TV on the rise

According to data released this week by satellite operator SES Astra, we are set to see the number of HD channels triple by the end of 2013. They expect to see this reflected in the number of pay-TV subscribers as well. Thomas Wrede, VP product management media, SES Astra, notes that there is a well known relationship between the number of subscribers and the number of channels, which they find with each pay-TV operator.

There have also been advances in technology hardware, with the report stating that there has been an increase in the number of 1920 x 1080 flat screens purchased. SES Astra note however, that initial HD forecasts have already been proven to be far lower than the actual volumes being deployed. This once again demonstrates the need for more HD content, which is yet to become mainstream.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Don't Forget What People Want

Looking through the latest specifications from STB manufacturers, TV makers and middleware providers, the list of amazing new features that will be delivered to the home user in the next 12 months is breathtaking.

Catch-up TV, download and play Movies, widget solutions, Web applications, VoIP and video calling, full Internet browsing, 3D interfaces, full integration into the home network with iTunes, support and video streaming and the list goes on.

I’m all for adding new features to the STB but let us all not forget the fact that most people want to just sit down and have an uninterrupted viewing experience. Any technologies we add, must not detract from this. New technologies must complement the existing service by offering the user choice and not detracting from the core viewing experience.

Chris Foulds, Release Manager, ANT

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Keep content in mind

ABI Research predicts that 846 million people will have subscribed to paid for TV services by the end of 2014. The majority of subscribers are expected to come from cable TV platforms, will satellite TV coming in second, followed by telco TV.

The 2014 prediction is 25% more than the 2009 number, representing impressive growth for paid TV services. This jump is reportedly down to the increasing demand for premium content, the emergence of new operators and the offers that they’re bringing to market combined with a growing list of interactive features.

Interactive applications are proving to be a key differentiating factor for operators, especially in more mature markets. But it’s important to keep content in mind as it is the ‘must have’ content that drives subscriptions, increases ARPU and reduces churn.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Android's fragmentation rumours

Reports that Google's Mobile Operating System Android is showing signs of fragmentation are rife. However, is fragmentation the wrong word?

I think it is. Device manufacturers and most importantly operators are yet to catch up with the idea of supporting a device throughout its lifetime. Traditionally you made a phone, put in it the shops, sold it and that was it.

However, now consumers are demanding support for these devices in the same way they get support for their PCs. So, whilst Google is releasing newer versions. All of a sudden handset manufacturers, like HTC, have ongoing work to do to integrate it and operators have to push the stuff out. But, where does the additional revenue to cover this come from?

As STB's and TV's enter this arena we will all have to be careful not to fall into the same trap.

Chris Foulds, Release Manager, ANT

Thursday, 25 February 2010

3D TV no longer just for movies

Canal+ has confirmed plans to launch a 3D channel in France by the end of 2010. This follows the recent announcement from BSkyB for its 3D channel, Sky 3D, to launch in April.

There’s been a lot of hype surrounding 3D TV particularly at the last IBC and CES shows which both touted new 3D technology solutions. It’s great to see these technologies make the move from the exhibition floor to the sitting room and start to become a reality.

3D TV is becoming increasingly popular for consumers as well as industry enthusiasts, it’s high profile usage in hugely successful films such as Avatar and the upcoming Alice in Wonderland is helping to maintain the momentum as did the first live sports broadcast in 3D seen in the UK last month.

This announcement from Canal+ shows that 3D TV is not just a fad or for early adopters and will soon hit the mainstream. People are curious to see what it looks like on both the big and small screen. The only question is, will there be enough content available to meet this increasing demand.

Monday, 15 February 2010

ANT Galio HbbTV Platform shortlisted for IPTV World Series Award

Monday, 15 February 2010

We’ve already had some great success with our HbbTV proposition, deploying the first HbbTV Set Top Box with Humax and most recently with German set-top box firm CreNova Technology selecting the ANT Galio HbbTV platform. We’ve now received some more good news with it being shortlisted for an IPTV World Series Award.

The Best Hybrid Broadcast-IP Video Delivery Solution or Service award “recognises an operator, network provider, solution provider or ISP for a video delivery service or solution which supports the delivery of video over both the IP and non-IP video networks in parallel”.

Fingers crossed for 23 March 2010!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Sky Broadcast 3D Sport Live

Sky ran the world’s first live 3D sports broadcast in a handful of pubs on Sunday. I wasn’t one of the lucky few to experience Arsenal play Manchester United in 3D, but the response so far seems pretty positive. were pretty impressed. Although, they felt it was a novelty rather than the future of TV. Mainly because of the glasses – posing the question of whether you would really wear them at home?

Digital Spy was also watching the event and noted that some elements of the broadcast worked better than others. For example, the teams walking onto the pitch looked impressive, as did the 3D graphics of the team. However, at times the players looked to be “plucked up from the surface”. So, not all positive.

I’m looking forward to experiencing a 3D live broadcast soon, which could be sooner rather than later with LG’s new LD920 3D TV, but I will still need some convincing to wear those glasses…

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

IPTV services set to reach 70 million homes by 2014

The latest subscriber forecast for the IPTV market has been released by Informa Telecoms & Media group. It predicts that 70 million homes globally will be receiving IPTV services by the end of 2014. Whilst, this is only five per cent of homes with TV sets, this is a massive increase on the 26 million subscribers recorded at the close of 2009.

28 million of the 70 million is expected to occur in Asia-Pacific which is forecasted to become the largest region in terms of IPTV subscribers by 2011.

For more information click here.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

HbbTV, a true hybrid solution

If you have a spare few minutes and are interested in learning a little more about the HbbTV initiative there’s an article in the latest edition of Cable & Satellite International that’s certainly worth a read. The article is written by Steve Morris, Systems Architect here at ANT who has contributed extensively to MHP, Open IPTV Forum and HbbTV. Steve is also the author of “Interactive TV Standards: A Guide to MHP, OCAP and JavaTV.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Sky announces TV Widget

Sky has announced that its popular Sky News app will now be available on connected TV’s from Samsung. The widget enables viewers to access news headlines whilst watching other TV programmes.

A similar application has already proved popular on the iPhone and iPod Touch but Sky’s refocus on the TV highlights the move towards TV based widgets in addition to mobile.

This is a promising development for TV Widgets, demonstrating the potential for device manufacturers to aim for the same scope of TV widgets as we have iPhone applications.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Happy New Year

I hope everyone enjoyed their respective Christmas holidays. Whilst the snow continues to fall around us, we’re busy planning for 2010.

In the next few days, our eyes will be firmly fixed on the world's biggest technology conference, The Consumer Electronics Show, which kicks off in Las Vegas tomorrow. It is well known for revealing landmark innovations, which previous announcements including the compact disc player, the VCR, high-definition TV and Blu-ray.

So, what announcements are expected for the TV this year? Well, it was impossible to miss the 3D hype at IBC so I expect to see more at CES. But, I guess we should wait and see.