Friday, 28 October 2011

NHS on your TV

The NHS in Scotland recently launched a new TV channel and interactive TV application that provides health information and advice to the public. NHS 24 is also using this to pilot a TV-based booking scheme for doctor’s appointments, indications are that this scheme is already reducing the number of missed appointments amongst people using it.

These services are all available over the Web already, so why make them available as interactive TV apps? Many people, especially the elderly or those in rural or deprived areas, have far better access to these services via their TV than they do via the Internet. While a website makes it far easier to offer a wider ranger of information and services, a digital TV service such as this gives much wider access to the basics and this is often enough to meet people’s needs.

Many commentators have already pointed out that the government’s plans to provide online access to more services risks widening the “digital divide” not only in Scotland but elsewhere. Offering some of these services via televisions as well via the Web can help reduce the impact of this, but only if those services are easy to use. Application developers need to carefully consider the audience most in need of these services – the elderly, those in rural areas and those in deprived areas – if they are to succeed.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Is this the tipping point for connected TVs?

Netflix announced plans on Monday to launch its online movie streaming service in the UK and Ireland, in early 2012. The new service will put it in line with Amazon’s LoveFilm and the recently launched YouTube Movie channel. Netflix shelved the plans for a UK launch several years ago after an initial failed attempt. But, as we see a ramp up in activity surrounding connected TVs and STBs for 2012, a re-launch isn’t much of a surprise.

2012 signifies a tipping point for the connected TV market. Manufacturers and retailers have been talking about the connected TV experience for some time, but in reality, the benefits are yet to be realised by the majority of consumers. 2012 is the year where this is set to change – and we’re expecting a host of services like this one to be launched in the coming twelve months as the market responds to growing consumer demand.

As TV technology becomes more intelligent and more interactive, consumers are looking for services and applications that deliver opportunities to explore and discover richer content, while staying true to the traditional TV viewing experience. As consumers become more au fait with the potential of connected TVs to enhance their experience, services like this are set to revolutionise the way we consume TV – an exciting time for both the industry and viewers alike.

Monday, 24 October 2011

D-Book goes connected

The UK Digital TV Group (DTG) recently announced the publication of version 7 of the D-Book, the interoperability specification for digital terrestrial TV in the UK. This is a major update for the D-Book, bringing connected TV to the forefront and aligning the UK’s work in this area with activities in other industry bodies.

The DTG has taken the approach of building on existing standards, but extending them where necessary to meet UK-specific needs (such as interoperability with MHEG) or to add features that were not stable at the time HbbTV was published. Although based on HbbTV, D-Book 7 adds support for additional parts of the OIPF specifications, for advanced graphics capabilities defined in HTML 5 and CSS 3, and for smooth media streaming over IP.

ANT has been heavily involved in this work , and we see this as a huge step for connected TV in the UK. This not only gives manufacturers and application developers a common standard to work to – it gives them a standard that’s aligned with other HbbTV deployments in Europe. D-Book 7 goes beyond HbbTV in terms of features and functions, enabling it to offer more advanced services, but also remains compatible with basic HbbTV applications.

While the UK’s early adoption of digital TV put it ahead of many countries, the choice of MHEG-5 did leave the UK as a “digital island”. D-Book 7 offers the UK TV industry a chance to resolve that and gain from further economies of scale, while retaining its leading position in the development and deployment of interactive TV services.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

IAB identifies missed opportunity as marketers find themselves in chicken and egg situation with IPTV

Research from the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) has found that a massive 88% of marketers don’t have an IPTV strategy. And, a third of those surveyed, felt that only a budget of £50,000 should be allocated to IPTV campaigns. But with global sales of IPTV devices set to reach 100 million by 2014, this is an opportunity marketers can’t afford to miss.

Connected TV and marketing campaigns is a chicken and egg situation. Marketers are waiting for consumers to demonstrate interaction with brands on TV sets, but without the content, consumers have nothing to interact with. However, consumers are slowly interacting. Take popular TV shows like X-Factor where viewers can vote from their sofas via the red button, interacting with content on the TV like never before.

Marketers have an opportunity to capitalise on this new medium as an innovative way to connect with their audiences. It’s all about social interaction now and as the home becomes more connected, consumers are looking for a complete multiscreen viewing experience. Marketer’s can’t afford to miss a device out of the loop.

The intelligence behind the ‘pane of glass’ that is a TV set, is phenomenal. The next generation of STBs are able to deliver interactive, personalised services enabling brands to interact with consumers whilst they watch their favourite TV shows. Marketers have an opportunity to work with STB device manufacturers to develop killer TV apps as well as mobile and tablet apps to deliver a complete marketing strategy.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

YouTube delivers online movies on demand

YouTube has now launched its online movie rental service in the UK. It’s a welcome addition to YouTube’s online video services, bringing premium media content to consumers in just a few simple clicks.

The launch follows in the footsteps of Amazon and Apple, and could be a serious contender to LoveFilm and the iTunes store as it’s proved itself to be an online community, rather than just a portal for video streaming.

YouTube is bringing the service to the UK after launching in the US and Canada. This is only the third market that YouTube has launched the service in, highlighting the increasing demand for digital content in the UK. By hosting this content online these services not only deliver access to a huge archive of media content, but also give viewers the freedom to watch what they want, when they want.

These services have also embraced the ‘app’ providing the ideal format for multiscreen viewing. By downloading these apps to the TV, tablet or smartphone viewers can watch movies, TV shows and music videos on the go. And, with technology like our own ANT Galio Move application, viewers can stream live and recorded programmes from their TV device direct to their tablet or smartphone anywhere in the home.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Half-time for digital switch over

The UK is more than half way to digital switch over. Consumers that receive their TV signal via an aerial rather than cable or satellite will be able to access more than 15 channels and as many as 40 depending on their proximity to a transmitter.

The switch to stronger digital signals means extra channels, including high-definition Freeview services, and much improved reception.

In the last two weeks transmitters in the Midlands, Oxfordshire, Stoke and Newcastle-under-Lyme and Yorkshire have been switched over. By the end of 2011 include 11 out of the 15 TV regions, 80 per cent of transmitter sites and 65 per cent of the population.

But despite the investment in regional awareness building campaigns research conducted by ANT shows that consumers face confusion when looking to buy a new TV.

For example Freeview HD has been promoted ahead of digital switch-over 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.

Many retailers stopped the sale of analogue TV sets in 2010 with the launch of the digital switchover but it’s essential that retailers take responsibility for the education process as well, helping consumers understand how these new devices work, to ensure they are getting the most out of new digital TV technologies. We need to get the building blocks in place to so we can look to develop more personalised TV services to the consumer.