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 SupĂ©rieur 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: