Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Going digital in Paris

Now that Paris has switched off its analogue TV transmitters, many Parisians may be wondering what exactly that should expect, from going wholly digital. In the short term, the answer is probably not much: figures indicate that only a small proportion of homes were relying on analogue transmissions before switch-off, so for many households it will be business as usual. Just like in the UK, viewers may need to re-tune their set-top boxes or TVs, but that’s probably all for now.

Looking forward, though, the analogue switch-off has the potential to drive some real change. Radio spectrum is so valuable that some of it will undoubtedly be sold off for purposes other than television. But more high-definition and interactive services are probably on the cards, as new digital services are able to re-use some of the spectrum currently used for analogue services. Given that French operators have demonstrated HbbTV-based services, there is already some movement in this direction. As France and the UK both move towards support for HTML-based interactive services in their terrestrial TV networks, it’s likely that we will see a range of new content appearing on TVs in the near future.

Based on experiences in Germany and the UK, catch-up TV services will probably be the first to appear. While not necessarily innovative, we have to remember that most people don’t regard interactive services as the “killer app” for their TV – the experience of actually watching TV is still far more important. Services that make it easier for people to do that are likely to be the winners in the short term. The combination of a standard platform and more broadcast bandwidth will help broadcasters deploy a wide range of new services, but service providers will still need to rely on “customer pull” rather than “technology push” to make those services a success.

What does iPad 2 mean for the future of multiscreen TV?

The iPad 2 is now available to buy, providing consumers with new features such as front and rear facing cameras, faster internet browsing and access to Apple’s famous appstore. But what impact will it have on the way we watch TV?

The rise of tablet devices is changing the way we consume content and could potentially have a huge impact on the future of TV. By providing broadcasters and advertisers with a new platform for exciting new TV services, content will no longer be confined to the TV screen. As the latest piece in the connected home puzzle, tablets are part of a chain of connectivity leading to the convergence of media content and interactive services. So content we would once associate with the web, is now appearing on our TV screens and vice versa.

Content providers need to look to deliver these interactive services across multiple devices. If consumers can download interactive TV content to a device such as an iPad, they can engage with exciting interactive TV services as they are broadcast in real time, without interrupting their viewing experience. The challenge is to deliver a consistent user experience across these platforms, whether the viewer is watching broadcast content on the TV or on the move with an iPad.

Monday, 21 March 2011

TV viewers want more personalised content

Sky has announced its commitment to using targeted advertising to give viewers a more personalised marketing experience when watching TV. With Sky AdSmart, viewers will give permission for Sky to take customer information such as postcode, age and viewing packages to divide viewers into segments, meaning they get the content most relevant to them.

Consumers are increasingly comfortable in personalising their viewing experience with the use of on-demand content. The advertising proposition is also evolving and remains an important part of this personalised TV experience.

Personal TV is the next TV - ANT’s CEO, Simon Woodward discusses this topic further in the video below:

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Twitter and TV

Twitter’s chief executive has spoken recently about its value for live TV shows, hinting that this may result in a tie-up with some TV advertisers. The theory is that tools such as Twitter enhance the experience of watching certain kinds of TV shows live, particularly sports events, by enabling people to communicate with their friends while they’re watching the show. While this may be the case, is it enough to make any tie-up with TV advertisers worthwhile?

Like many other people I’m often tinkering with my laptop while I’m watching TV – but I’m probably doing that during ad breaks when I’m less interested in what’s on the screen. I expect many other people do the same. People may interact with their friends using Twitter, Facebook, or instant messaging during TV shows, but the reality is that while they’re doing this, they’ve taken their eyes off the TV screen and are busy using another device. From the point of view of the advertisers, is this really very different from people watching the ads on fast-forward? If nothing else, they’re still looking at the TV when they’re fast-forwarding through the ads and may actually be paying more attention than otherwise.

The social aspects of watching TV shouldn’t be underestimated – just look at the number of people who watch sports events on TV at bars and pubs – but there’s no guarantee that a social media service can tap into this in a way that helps the advertisers.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Bridging the app

The launch of the iPad 2 has created yet another wave of talk about apps for consumer devices. With its faster processor and dual cameras, the iPad has been hailed as the device that will change the face of applications. And the app store is clearly here to stay.

But what impact does the ‘app store’ have on TV? Currently, viewers can enjoy a range of new services on their TVs, through apps enabled by connected TV sets and Set-top boxes. As the TV app market develops, apps need to be designed with the TV viewer in mind. It’s not simply a case of reformatting existing PC and mobile applications for the TV. At the end of the day, the ‘killer app’ for TV, is TV; consumers want a passive viewing experience, where they can sit back and relax, while absorbing high quality personalised content.

We are likely to see an increase in social media applications for the TV as social networking becomes more prevalent and viewers want to interact instantly with their friends about what they’re watching. But other apps will need to deliver value added content for the viewer if they are to get a look in.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

How will product placement impact traditional TV advertising?

This Morning became the first UK TV show to feature product placement, when Nescafe’s Dolce Gusto coffee machine was featured in This Morning’s kitchen set this week.

This follows OFCOMS recent unveiling of its new warning symbol for programmes containing product placement Commercial broadcasters and the advertising industry will obviously welcome this move, given the challenges facing the more traditional forms of advertising in the UK. What may not be so clear is how this could affect the revenue flow between broadcasters, advertisers, and production companies. Where advertisers were traditionally working with broadcasters, will product placement lead to production companies such as Endemol getting a bigger share of the advertising pie?

The restrictions on where it can be used, and the logo for shows that feature it, seem to be a reasonable compromise between slowing the decline in advertising revenue and maintaining the public’s trust. Along with differences in TV culture between the two countries, it is unlikely that the UK will go as far down the product placement road as the USA.

While some people consider product placement to mean TV shows are “selling out” to advertisers, the reality is that less advertising revenue means fewer new TV shows getting produced. As PVRs have become popular, we’ve already seen the content of TV ads change so that they’re still effective when played at 8x or 16x normal speed. This is just the logical next step for the advertising industry in overcoming the challenges introduced by technology. The trick for advertisers will be to make sure it’s noticeable enough to have the desired effect, but not so noticeable that it makes people change the channel.