‘televisionis horribilis’ – The TV Industry Bringing About the Demise of it’s Own TV Content Business


IMG_1707‘televisionis horribilis’ – 2009 – “Don’t be fooled by the technology gurus and those who would build a better mousetrap each week thus disrupting the status quo of Television. We don’t always need a lot of what is offered but unfortunately, in this day and age, we believe that in Digital TV, technologically speaking, we need to offer such complex products even down to Twitter, Google and all that other Social Media access; and even Widgets…Deployments however are struggling to make sense of the business models and technology is leapfrogging technology before chosen deployments can take place”.   I will highlight the issues, mock the troublemakers and generally comment on what the world of Digital TV is doing in the race to capture our money…because after all that is what it is all about – making money from the customers and increasing that well know acronym; ARPU.

That aforementioned piece was written in 2009 when it was clear that fragmentation and disruptive technology had been identified as the future mess that was to befall Digital TV. I did highlight issues, I did mock certain pretenders to the throne but like all modern businesses there is a desire to keep rolling along regardless of whether things are indeed required or not. In fact, during this period, fragmentation was mainly about the plethora of different transmission, middleware, security, applications and a whole swathe of other technologies for TV. It is now 5 years on with fragmentation about the only word we now hear at conferences, seminars and during interviews with TV Tech personalities. Finally! Has the penny dropped? – Well it is not quite as simple as that. Yes we have a huge fragmentation problem but it is now multi-faceted. What we have now are both technology and business model fragmentation, all mainly due to the surge in larger bandwidth offerings, cheaper memory, more powerful chips and content available just about anywhere at all; even when you buy a Starbucks [1]coffee. Fragmentation of technology is one thing and there is a lot of scrabbling about to have standards and common software principles in every sector both old and new (as there always has been)… but now the fragmentation at content level is wreaking havoc.

Yes technology fragmentation (there I said it again!) has handed the market an additional problem which is the unravelling of the TV business into individual content providers, on a provider by provider, App by App basis with some of them offering unique content. The term ‘A La Carte’ has been bandied around for many years but it has finally unfolded with Netflix, HBO, Amazon, Google, and others trying to be the unique supplier of TV content to consumers. Not entirely a la carte but not bouquets and bundles as per the payTV providers either. This week, someone was heard announcing on a UI-UEX panel at Connections Europe, that consumers have been asking for ‘What They Want -When They Want – Where They Want’, and as a result of this need has seen them abandoning traditional payTV services to achieve that. Not all of the TV industry believes in that 10 year-old made-up mantra.

The reality of ‘What I Want When I Want, Where I Want’ is quite different in different markets, especially outside of the USA where ‘Local Language, Broadcast Rights and Release Windows’ are a sport in themselves. At Connections Europe the Roku representative had the answer to our terrible TV fragmentation problem – ‘We have addressed the problem of fragmentation with Roku TV, an OTT device, which allows all content to run on a single platform’ – Dah! Dah! Well I was flabbergasted to say the least, sat there wondering if anyone at Roku has ever really been in the TV industry.   Apple TV got there first, some years ago, dear Mr. Roku and failed to be able to solve the common platform for all content issue even with their world-wide deployments. We saw them naturally defaulting to local language, an inability to provide access to a wide range of content because of the very convoluted licensing issues that abound in a complex European marketplace. iTunes default by offering up mostly the Top Ten (most popular content) … and that dear friends is perhaps a sign of things to come for all the others now entering this market.

We know that we can listen to music over and over and over again but Video Content, TV Shows, Movies etc. is a different proposition. It is in the main a single viewing experience. We want NEW and WE CANNOT WAIT and we even BINGE voraciously (well some tiny percentage do) and then we sit pensively awaiting the next show to be produced. In the meantime we have other Top Ten shows to consume and we are like sheep we all follow the masses from Walking Dead, Game of Thrones to House of Cards and Braking Bad as if there is nothing else interesting to watch. Well that is what we are led to believe by the protagonists of OTT TV who only mention these ‘hot’ shows during all discussions concerning the future of TV viewing. Gardeners World, Living Planet, The Simpsons, The 10 o’clock news never gets a mention!

In the world of TV the channels are not helping themselves much – programming is becoming unusually boring in some sectors. On certain nights in France you can see 4 to 5 same genre shows transmitted one after the other on the same channel. The average viewing time in France is a mere 3.5Hrs/day/person.   With 4 NCIS in a row you are already close to that … as is 4 episodes of Bones or 1 news, 1 quiz-show, 1 movie and perhaps another programme added to that line-up makes 4 hours easily reached.   The film could come off a VOD catalogue or a PVR not from live broadcast. So little time for all that content but such a choice! My point is that the over-abundance of channels with thousands of hours of shows, films et al cannot be consumed. Tastes are so diverse that any ‘personal’ line-up will be diverse. We also believe that everyone KNOWS what they want to watch. However if they have not seen it how will they know what it is all about? Marketing works. TV advertises forthcoming shows on TV, Magazines also, Billboards too.

So what will happen if it gets to the point that you pay ONLY for what you watch? Will we arrive at a situation whereupon we will have to re-hash the way the content is packaged – It will be impossible to please 100 million people each evening with their individual viewing packages and for a sufficient panorama of content to always satisfy all the tastes of all the people.  TV programming is a little like running a restaurant with the need to stock up the kitchen ready to serve a public who choose meals randomly from a menu ; done so that you have some control of the purchasing of ingredients and delivery process ‘n’est ce pas’? Splitting everything up into individual suppliers will quite frankly only lead to a dog’s dinner of a situation for the consumer. We also all know that ‘A La Carte’ in a Restaurant is more expensive than a ‘Set Menu’.   Imagine that you can only get a full meal by having to pay to go into each restaurant in order to have a satisfying array of limited choice. An entrance fee per restaurant – Fish from one, Meat from the other, Dessert elsewhere, Cheese in another, Wine from elsewhere. You would soon look for someone who could supply you a one-stop-shop location offering up a whole bunch of variety I would imagine. I know I would!

The debate about ‘A La Carte’ [2]and individual content suppliers always turns around a made up work at Connections – ‘recency’ i.e the most recent TV Shows and Movies without anyone considering the other content that is very heavily consumed such as News, Documentaries, Light Entertainment and many other genres. So we all clamber for the ‘Top Ten’ and the masses pay for the ‘Top Ten’ and all that other content just gets ignored or is badly served – long-tail or back-catalogue and then eventually dies away due to lack of funding…

It may be the younger generation who don’t watch TV like their parents or so we are told. There is constant scaremongering regarding cord-cutting and the millennials and their refusal to pay for content that they don’t watch; add to this the fact that they don’t want advertising either, begs the question – Who will fund content? Is the TV industry heading towards an era of ‘televisionis horribilis’.

I found this very informative piece at Variety.com (reference below for full article) … A quick aside about a la carte. If the government forced networks and distributors to offer individually priced channels at retail — yes, that could lower the total cost of someone’s bill. But the cost per channel would skyrocket (ESPN could go up to $30 per month, according to one analyst estimate), and consumers would end up paying much more for far less. A broad shift to a la carte would spell doom for many networks.

Quote reference: http://variety.com/2013/biz/news/pay-tv-prices-are-at-the-breaking-point-and-theyre-only-going-to-get-worse-1200886691/#

[1] http://www.starbucks.com/coffeehouse/wireless-internet/starbucks-digital-network

[2] http://www.rapidtvnews.com/2014112336161/ott-bundles-will-cost-as-much-or-more-than-regular-cable-subscriptions.html#axzz3Jy26uWhB

An Industry in Denial – The Reality of STB Middleware


IMG_5257As 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.

4K UltraHD: The Naysayers are Alive and Kicking


IMG_1707Another 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.

TV and Twitter – #Abuse or #Banter


The Eurovision Song Contest whether you like it or not is one of those annual events that is very divisive. Some people claim it is the best three hours of television in Europe each year, others state that it is an annual cringe-fest best watched drunk with friends. In the good old days, when it was cool to do so, this mega event would have seen fervent discussion, in both the work environment and the pub, with a lot of moaning about the performance of the UK’s song. You would have no doubt heard the infamous, “La Norvege nul points” done in the best French accent regardless whether Norway was in the running to win, which actually happened back in 2009. The UK, by the way, has not won the coveted Eurovision crown since 1997. #WTF. Please excuse that Twitter expletive; it has relevance later in the piece. Finally the discussions clearly centred on the much renowned and vilified block voting practices that always make each year a hoot. This banter about TV shows is known in colloquial terms as the water-cooler moment. For many of you reading, the water-cooler discussions now centre more on scenes from Breaking Bad and House of Cards, which is hardly the same now, is it? You might say if you are a fan of the event, that the Eurovision Song Contest is clearly a form of light-entertainment that will most likely outlive the complex TV drama series for years to come.

So the wonderful Eurovision Song Contest, for the hilarity of the commentary and tongue-in-cheek moments, will remain a guilty secret pleasure for those that are afraid to engage openly on the subject with colleagues. Fear not dear reader there is a new, wider TV water-cooler way out for those who feel the need to give opinion and commentary; without coming out of the closet on Eurovision. This is Social Media. Whilst more pertinent during the show than after this new communication channel will give you access to millions of like-minded people and plenty of hearty banter. Hang on this is not quite the same I hear you cry! Well you are correct because this way of interacting changes the commentary landscape enormously. Let us explore this more. Combining Social Media Platforms with popular TV shows offers up a soapbox for wider serious commentary, hilarious banter and a whole lot of trouble. Here is an example during the Icelandic performance: @bbceurovision – He’s been Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar. Wouldn’t Icelandic Jesus be Jesus Godsson? #eurovision. #LOL! …

 

Full Story Here: http://www.marketme.co.uk/tv-and-twitter-abuse-or-banter/  

Open Source for TV – Does Canonical Hold The Key?


There has been quite a few initiatives around the Open Source aspect for Software in the Digital TV domain. Open Source is not Standardisation but in effect it is, if it becomes ubiquitous.

The lowest common denominator for the software is a decent OS stack and Engine. Canonical has the foundation upon which to build an Open Source model for the TV industry. Will ‘people’ allow that to happen? That all depends on the age old problem of ‘politics’.

Broadcasters and Operators can gain HUGE Savings in CAPEX and OPEX with Companion Screen Interactivity


cropped-img_5938.jpg
Companion Screen TV

 

This is one of the best articles I have read on the trials and tribulations of the 2nd Screen-Companion Screen and their role in Television interactivity.  As you might know I am a confirmed Interactive TV enthusiast, having been in this industry sector since its very early days.   The main dificulty in Interactive TV has always been the ROI.  How do you make money at it?   For the Broadcaster and Operator it is fast becoming more and more clear, but they have to change their thinking with respect to this area of Television and embrace a change in direction.  Why?  Cost Saving without cutting head-count, service reduction can be achieved and an actual revenue generating service can be implemented.  This makes sense for the long term financial health of teh Broadcasters & Operators.   Companion Screen Interactivity (SaaS based) is a natural CAPEX/OPEX ‘cost-saving’ exercise. We know that Embedded Middleware in STBs and TVs is a very costly exercise for advanced services and interactivity.  It is costly to License – Implement – Test – Run a Back Office and Pay to have Applications developed.  It needs constant Software Support and there are, in the main, run-time costs associated with most Middleware systems.   It is fragmented!   For the Broadcaster/Operator Interactive TV OPEX (SaaS model) can be amortised against the TV-Everywhere/Catch-Up Services Infrastructure already in place.  It makes sense to move to a SaaS based service as the Companion Screens are bought by the Consumer not by the Broadcaster/Operator.   STBs and TVs can also be cost reduced as they will require less intelligence.  Apps are/can be/will be downloaded for free.  Advertisers, Programme makers and the Channels can exploit this synchronised, always connected 2nd Screen in the home.    There may well be dedicated TV+Companion Screen sales at CE level in the future.  Although this will take time to evolve as a market I believe it is a natural path for Interactive Services.   Please read the Article linked below to get a good overview of the already fragmented market, the dificult marriage of many players and the reluctance of the Broadcasters/Operators who have not seen the obvious route they should be taking.

http://www.digitaltveurope.net/25348/good-companions/

Why Many Medium Sized Middleware Software Companies Fail


snakes-laddersHow difficult is the business of Digital STB/iTV middleware?  How many attempts have there been to create a long-term sustainable business in this field, only for it to fail?  Middleware is expensive, requires huge engineering resources, long implementation cycles, onerous testing and in-field evaluation.  This makes middleware a difficult sell into the market because apart from any technical requirements there are many other players in the value chain that need to align beforefore there is any deployment and ultimately a middleware success.

Whilst this is the case, since TV went Digital,  it has not stopped companies trying to make big business in this market segment.   Since the 90’s many companies reached a certain maturity; their Middleware tenacity paid dividends and they seemed to be on the crest of a wave – then Kaboom!  It was all over.   This has been due to, in the main,  a technology or market requirement change.  In fact the Television Middleware market has seen a lot of these changes over the years with a plethora of new technologies appearing every few  years.   Embedded technologies such as MHEG5, PowerTV, Liberate, MicrosoftTV, OpenTV, Mediahighway, MHP, OCAP, ACAP, GINGA, EBIF, On-RAMP, Tivo, Moxi, GEM, HbbTV, Flash, HTML5 and others have all been put through their paces, struggled and have either failed or have been ousted by another.  The Broadcast/Operator Markets get bored with middleware after a few years.   Naturally new software and services evolve, new companies emerge in the form of young, hungry and agile businesses that are able to distract those middleware customers.  The latest is SECOND SCREEN/COMPANION SCREEN and the CLOUD interactivity which is a cheaper ‘non-embedded’ solution much more favourable in terms of CAPEX & OPEX considering many Broadcasters and Operators already have On-Line services as part of their business today.  However, once again alignment of many players is going to be the key to its success.

For those Middleware Companies who have not invested and merely followed the trends see their failure to innovate shrink back their business opportunities quickly.  They fall behind by selling their Slideware.  The answer is really quite simple and that is to have an innovation team in place, but this rarely happens if there is weak management in place.   A significant disruptive issue is that the cost level of new-software royalties demanded by new players is radically changed downward and the middleware business teams start to feel the pressure.   As the Business Development manager presents this market issue to a bemused Senior Management team he is told that He and Sales must sell what they have and stop complaining about the company portfolio!  The deals actually slow down then the actual customers you have play with this market phenomena working you harder for less money.  It is brutal!  I have lived it twice now!  The following is a list of things that happen when weak management fails to innovate…

  • Management starts to bury its head in the sand, blaming the workers on the coal-face for lack of sales
  • You are forced to  focus on short-term results which drives out all ideas that take longer to mature.
  • Changing a new technology direction evokes fear of cannibalisation of current business and this fundamentally prevents investment in new areas.
  • Most of your resources are devoted to ‘day-to-day’ business so that few if none exist for innovative prospects.
  • Innovation becomes someone else’s job and not part of everyone’s responsibility.
  • Ideas are often quashed as outlandish and there is a retrenching by the old guard of the company.
  • An efficiency focus eliminates free time for any fresh thinking.
  • There is an avoidance of responsibility and therefore no process to nurture the development of new ideas.
  • We look internally as we panic rather than starting with the market changes and customers’ needs and problems
  • Try to sell people technology that you have, which is not what the customer wants so they go to your competitor.
  • All incentives are geared towards maximizing the present business and reducing risk although it is not possible.
  • Senior managers immediately look for the flaws in new ideas rather than teasing out their potential
  • Budgets are squeezed, marketing is reduced, cost cutting is the answer.
  • You start to sell what the customers want to hear; it become Slideware selling.
  • You can excite the market but cannot deliver the technology in the time-frame required.
  • Competitors overtake you, squeezing you out of new deals.
  • When you do finally have the technology it is too late as the market has already chosen.
  • The managers that speak up and highlight the inneficiencies are quashed and replaced with yes-men.
  • The company struggles and the inevitable happens.

Is There Really A Loss Of Allure To CES 2013?


200px-The_Bubble_British_PosterWhen you don’t go to a Trade Show that you have been regularly visiting for the past 8-10 years it is a slightly uncomfortable feeling.    It sort of feels like you are missing out on something…but are you really?  CES is after all a gadget show and do we need to go if we are not Retailers of Consumer Electronics?  What a lot of people do not know is that there is a lot going on behind the scenes in more of a Business-2-Business nature; especially in the Television world that I move in.   A lot of networking takes place, and a lot of  ‘private suites’ allow for plenty of businessmen to gather, show of their wares in private, discuss and potentially deal-make!

However as a ‘tech journalist’ you might think that things have a different allure.  Certainly the BBC’s writer David Pogue has just publishd a very poignant article from his perspective.  It can be found in full here: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20130104-does-ces-have-a-future

His outlook is that there is mostly years of repetition of  technology along with what I call ‘catch-up’ Companies there ‘en-masse’ with cheaper but the same gadgets from the year before and therefore swamping the floors, the industry and the news with old stuff in effect.  There is also a decline in the Big Companies with Microsoft having pulled out!   Apple is not there either and if Apple is not there how can it truly be called THE Consumer Electronic Show?  Qualcomm even did the keynote speech this year – Qualcomm?

Another journalist from our immediate industry Leslie Ellis pointed out that the the trending products were waterpoofing gadgets for your smartphones and tablets.   I suspect the Hunting Knife Company and the Mini Flying Helicopters will still be there in the South Hall and that Spearmint Rhino will still get its CES clientele.  Ummm, so what is it I miss?

Well in all honestly I do miss it as it kicks off the business year with a hectic, manic traipse around Vegas!  Therefore life without an early dose of CES certainly makes for a less-tired more calculated start to 2013.

HbbTV Needs to Up Its Game If It Wants To Win!


There is many a debate (especially on the TV Forums of LinkedIn) surrounding the Interactive TV Specification of HbbTV.  Many people are already hailing its success due to the fact that it has been selected in a handful of countries with interest and deployment growing elsewhere.  Even the DTG in the UK has added an HbbTV profile to its D-Book Spec.

Like Docsis versus the DVB-Return Channel specification the industry driven HbbTV spec has beaten a DVB consortium developed product.  Notably the same supporting Companies are in both camps in order to hedge their bets.  Actually  they are merely choosing sides and subversively working against the specification that they do not actually support as a business?  I have, in the past complained about this act to no avail.  I have also highlighted this issue of fragmentation at SDO level, to no avail, especially as the world of TV and Broadband collide!  No organization (i.e EU/EC) has evoked any initiatives around the need to  ‘merge’ these disparitive groups in order to harmonise all the work, thus avoiding, in the main, huge Corporate wastage of effort and manpower.  Millions upon millions of dollars are spent in duplicated tracks of work.  We live with it.   The DVB and OIPF/HbbTV divergence will possibly cause more fragmentation than is necessary despite liaison between the groups.  The DVB must address this issue quickly in order to help the market roll-out of this homogenised interactive system for DVB networks – Perhaps it is too late for that?  Docsis managed to be successful without the DVB, so was CI+ until it was pulled back in to the consortium.  Has a precedence been set?

I was an evangelist for MHP in those heady days, which now bear a striking resemblance to the HbbTV rollout. I am still a firm believer in Interactive Value Added Services for the viewer and therefore it is good that HbbTV appears to be growing in stature. I said it is moving ahead in the same way as MHP did 10+ years ago i.e. a disparitive smattering of Countries, Channels, Broadcasters, Operators – Many, Many Tech suppliers – a further smattering of Content Developers and several all encompassing HbbTV experts such as HTTV in France.

However like the MHP initiative there is no cohesive nation-wide plan in any country despite what others may think; nor any EU mandate (nor will they ever mandate anything in this area now the market has reached such massive digital fragmentation) – the digital Interactive TV horse has truly bolted!  This may cause a problem for HbbTV to become a true nationwide or global standard.

As I have also previously highlighted the very nature of TV software evolution (HTML5, Companion Screen, Second Screen, Zeebox,  SaaS technology etc.) and the margin fueled business of high volume selling at retail i.e. Zappers and alternative solutions (Hulu, Netflix, AppleTV and all the varieties of Connected TV, WebTV and the Toys-R-Us channel type offerings) it may take longer for it to be fully mainstream in Retail…

However for the first time it has a larger ‘Broadcaster’ following than any other previous standard. The EBU is firmly behind it. The markets are the problem. Where there is an incumbent like the lonely MHP in Italy, change will take longer, but there will be change; it is inevitable!  Unification with a forward drive at a higher level is required.  Someone needs to really drive it forward but NOT as a technology; which is the present modus operandi!  One of the biggest problems of HbbTV is that  after tens of years of experience, we know full well that selling Technology Acronyms for the Interactive TV business to Consumers – DOES NOT WORK. Even MHEG5 and OpenTV in Sky were converted to “Red Button” to make it consumer palatable. HbbTV needs to do the same for it to go truly mainstream before it becomes outmoded especially ‘vis-à-vis’ the general public who are used to ‘new services’ each 6 months. If HbbTV wants to win as a mainstream universal technology it has to up its game.

Is Linear TV, Recorded Shows on A PVR and the odd Blu-ray Film Enough for Most People?


I recently discussed the world of TV amongst my entourage one afternoon during a BBQ party at home.  In the main, my guests stated that they watch either DTT, Satellite or an IPTV service (Cable does not exist in these parts), also the odd DVD or Blu-ray for stored media.   I showed them (mostly the men) my set-up at home which is a FTA STB for French Terrestrial, a Satellite+PVR, also a Blu-ray and an IPTV service in the front room – All via a single screen via an HDMI splitter – AppleTV and WebTV in the den through a projector, an IPAD for WebTV.  The first questions were … why do you have so much TV in the house and do you watch it all?  The answer is a sort of ‘because’ and ‘it’s not really that simple’: For IPTV, I have no real choice as it is a bundle from Orange … however I have not turned on the STB since over a year…I still pay 3 Euros/month rent – Duh!  The satellite is because we have a multi-language family so I need access to other language programmes.  The den is because we wanted a system with an ad-hoc (pay-as-you-go) movie channel and AppleTV seemed the way to go, at the time.  They looked bewildered at all the kit!

If I had my way the’ sum of the whole’ would be a huge Gateway that would take all the inputs and then send them to ‘slave devices’ in the home…which is ‘on the way’ in the market-place, but not from Orange as they have not followed Bouyges or Free who offer a combo (media-centre) devices; the Orange IPTV service has in fact have simply chosen to go for a new interface in 2012 from Orca Interactive (who they now own) which will be a huge step out of the 1990s interface they presently have; but not enough to make me watch the content.   I would actually like to use the iPAD and some Companion Screen interactivity but that is a long way off in this region!

My friends … who range from both retired and working businessmen, to engineers, artists, artisans, restaurateurs and more – a diverse crowd … are amazed at my explanation of what is available in Digital TV … this is because normally watch several programmes – thier favourites, and are suprised by the odd new show they fall upon…they have what they need, which is actually basic linear TV!

However for people like me, and there are others, we need the industry to solve the complex modern digital TV system offering (something that is not tied to a single operator):  It needs to cater for diversity in a ‘multi-service’ environment, it needs to be intuitive i.e. easy to navigate and switch between devices that can offer multi-content in a TV Everywhere scenario.  However is it really possible to have an extraordinary Viewing Experience and Simple Navigation system when you have such a diverse number of providers and a principal screen of 42″.   It would seem unlikely.   From what I have seen the business of TV is fragmented, cluttered and simply getting more and more complex as Google and the rest try to usurp traditional broadcasters.

We finished the party and cleared up settling in front of the TV with a ‘digestif’ – We searched and searched the late-night channels eventually falling upon the recorded shows on the PVR – Raymond Blanc and the delightful show the ‘Hungry Frenchman’.   With our friends we had talked of many things that evening, including the demise of quality content, and it was an interesting insight into the reality and perception of the common man.  I did lend out a couple of Blu-ray disks too.