The marriage of many parties in the Interactive TV systems has always been the Achilles heel for a fully integrated homogenous interactive environment. We have had other pre-2nd screen (i.e. 2nd-Window) systems since the 1990s that have suffered from the same issues described in this rather oldish article: (considering Zeebox has already walked into the sunset) http://edit.hollywoodreporter.com/behind-screen/zeebox-s-anthony-rose-people-589252 – However it is worth some reflection:
Programme/TV Show/Film producers (Pre-Production and Post Production) are still unable to have a “write-once” for a “read-anywhere” business plan due to competing (proprietary/standardised) technologies that are all designed for the same job of Value Added Services. There were and still are proprietary and standardised CMS systems available but that still did not answer the age old problem of incompatibility across broadcasters, operators selection of technology in the global TV eco-systems. The DVB Consortium made something that tried to answer this early on with something called DVB-PCF (Transcoding across different VAS systems) which the BBC worked heavily on. It never saw the light of day.
Therefore creating and franchising a show using a SocialTV / Companion Screen technology and single back-office system is seen as a pre-requisite in the conquering of this Value Added Service arena. The Show the Voice in Holland was successful using Social TV but this cannot be sold as a package into Belgium for example for techno-political-business reasons.
2nd Screen technology technology fragmentation is the same issue as in ALL previous Interactive TV middleware issues. Then add to this new Non-TV technologies (i.e. designed for the Internet all trying to latch on to the TV eco-system). Fit-For-Purpose is an issue that also dogs the TV eco-system. Different Social TV and Companion Screen offerings now numbers in their 30s with Civolution, Egonocast, Shazam, WyWy etc. integrating on-screen, 2nd-window, off-programme and full dual-screen synchronisation.
There are lots of other things that are around in the new world of TV Tech – the failed 3DTV and now UHDTV and 4K etc. that are at least keeping us occupied.
I presented at the #screen4allforum this week on the subject of ‘The Future of Television and User Interfaces’. There was a mixed bag of panellists on a variety of sessions at this rather unusual academic style event held in Paris. I found that the ‘production and creative side of the business’ much more open to discussing real issues and tricks of the trade; including opening up about their real life experiences in their respective sectors. You could tell by the audience participation that this was seen as interesting by the amount of questions thrown at them.
However, a large percentage of the ‘TV technologists’, especially on the panel on which I participated, insisted on doing their ‘Corporate Sales Pitch’ as if the audience was full of potential ‘buyers’ of TV everywhere, specific flavoured user-interfaces and middleware.
The audience present, I imagine, expected to hear about the ‘future of television interfaces’. They were there, I imagine, to understand where and how their TV shows might be accessed, displayed and how the consumer of the future might interact with the TV. This was ever so lightly covered by what had been deployed TODAY and where it was deployed TODAY, as if this was the answer to today’s complex world of and the future of television interfaces.
Quite frankly at these kind of events the audiences do not come to hear and see ‘glammed-up’ product pitches, corporate videos and sales promotion. Our industry is soooo guilty of this right across the board, in all the conferences that I attend. I know that people don’t like hearing this particular truth about this aspect of seminars and forums, but it is true. I am sorry if I am accusing people, but it remains a very true fact that we see, all too many times, the Corporate Sales Pitch and absolutely no real discussion and no real ‘thought leadership’ on the topic in hand.
When you only have roughly 10 minutes and that is taken up with who you are and what you sell, dont you think this is not just a little sad and desperate. The session always ‘runs out of time’ and the audience has no time for questions nor are they inspired to ask any.
I go back to the title Thought Leadership … which is what we were supposed to deliver in order to be interesting, informative and in-line with the subject. This is going to get much more kudos I would have thought … Or am I perhaps just being a little naive in expecting more from these very clever people? I am very saddened by the Corporate Sales Pitches approach from almost all of my peers in the television technology sector, however I know for a fact that it will not change, even if highlighted to the the world or my 1/2 dozen readers ;-).
As RDK claims success and global dominance I would like to offer up this little piece of insight from the world of middleware having spent my career in this particular sector. Middleware is considered troublesome and not well liked. It is certainly misunderstood as a technology. When there is none in a device – there are no advanced services in TV.
In the present market-place what we do know is that that Mediaset Italy (despite the talk of change towards HbbTV in 2017) is still MHP as is Telenet in Belgium. Telenet have just added a Horizon style UI on their existing stack (so the underlying engine is not swapped out) – MediaHighway is still in the market as are huge deployments of OpenTV 2 and the others get TiVo. UM is looking to move to Horizon but we are not completely sure what the technology really is…some of you insiders at the heart of this will certainly not divulge.
There is no RDK compliance and conformance scheme so nobody can really claim that they have a fully compliant RDK product; especially considering that RDK is declared as part of a partial solution to advanced services.
HbbTV is still moving forward and there is no one-size fits all its just the same old mixed bag of systems all trying to do the same thing; just a little bit differently in each case…or we just pop backwards and then claim success when we catch-up with already advanced services as is the case in HbbTV with the recent 2nd screen announcement of ARD. We are alway in prior-art denial in this part of the industry and talk about things as if they have just been invented.
There are some Android deployments also in the mix.
As in the past this new RDK acronym is looking to homogenise a variety of technology for the same old problem of interactive TV/VAS (Value added services) and there is a lot of hype for this set of partial building blocks that is absolutely ‘not deployed on a wide basis across the industry’- despite the claims. I feel we are in a snake-oil, cure-all sales pitch when it comes to this particular product and I wonder why this is necessary?
What we do need in the STB world is a FULL middleware stack with the flexibility, openness and versatility of today’s market that can also be supported by the stability of a partner that is well versed in the intricacies of the art of Broadcast as well as Internet interactive TV services, right across the board.
In fact if you were to actually look it appears that we already have this in the market place and it is making a big impact where it is deployed. This technology is OpenTV 5, a ‘connectware’ not a middleware that is based on sound principles of device connectivity and interactivity with a plethora of advanced services that covers all the requirements of Old and New TV services. OpenTV 5 has a single entity responsible for its well being and I am sorry to say that this in this industry this is very, very important.
There is no such thing as being able to commoditise the software in a STB especially if you wish this device to function in a very complex, Multi-Service, Multi-Screen, TV Everywhere, Connected Smart-Home network environment.
Check out OpenTV 5 connectware at IBC this year at http://dtv.nagra.com/ibc/
Let us not forget that OpenTV has been in this area of technology since the 1990s which gives it huge credibility, expertise and a massive portfolio of intellectual Property in this particular sector of interactive advanced television services.
Another new Screen technology has arrived follwed by a huge wave of pessimistic, down-beat commentry on this that and the other. UltraHD if you have never seen it is FANTASTIC and has as much WOW FACTOR as did HD when it came about in full HD resolution. I never thought I would say this but it is definitely a step forward in viewing experience.
It does seems that we have a penchant for being pessimistic in our industry especially if a new product defies the beliefs of the tech soothsayers. 4K is moving faster than everyone has expected. As prices tumble and content catches up the gap is filled by the early adopters, those that like new shiny toys and people who believe. I am definitely going to buy a new 4K UltraHD TV as I did a 50″ Plasma when they came out. In fact I picked up an old plasma (50″) the other day for 300CHF and attached it to an XBox 360 in my son’s bedroom. He has a serious gaming station and he can still watch TV on it. What is the relevance here? Screen size!
The fact is that the bigger the screen the better the TV/Gaming experience because the more immersive it becomes and ironically, I have observed, the less likely are you to be distracted by Facebook and other Social Media shenanigans with this type of environment.
As I predicted all those years ago 3D is dead but this time I want to say long live 4K UltraHD.
What I would like to know is will we now have a hashtag for every incident that occurs on the planet be it a kidnapping, murder spree or some other event that affects the human race in some shape or form or are we going to deal with these incidents realistically? This is how this whole event should have unfolded: #event – Hundreds of Schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria. #nextstep – UN (or some governing body) orders orders Press BLACKOUT – #nextnextstep – We send in a multi-nation Elite Forces Group – Kill Terrorists – Rescue Girls – #PressStory then reads: Schoolgirls kidnapped in northern Nigeria by Boko Haram rescued, ALL Terrorists dead – VOILA!
Lets sort out the mess and NOT tweet nonsense and vocalise DISDAIN about it as that is just what Boko Haram wants. Sorry #michelleobama @MichelleObama but holding a hashtag poster was just not what you should have done; You should have told hubby @BarackObama to send in the troops.
We have left France! This is for several reasons. Work has taken us back into the land of Fondu and Cuckoo Clocks. It is for fiscal benefits as well. We had the option to stay and work in France but ultimately the system is so complex that it was not worth the effort to organise. As the French bureaucracy, that we never mastered, blunders along, the ever increasing taxes that destroy entrepreneurship are something that we hope to see the government address before we return. We want to return because we love the country. So for now we will yodel along the highways and byways of the Canton of Vaud safe in the knowledge that what we get at the end of the month is ours to play with. Tax at source is a great way to ensure the government gets its coffers filled and minimizes tax fraud.
We will start to discover the gastronomy of Switzerland and report back with our findings. Keep your eyes peeled for us wont you?