Video Wars – Amazon in YouTube Blackout


Needless to say there are spats in the Broadcast world when there are negotiations for carriage fees. We have channel blackouts regularly announced, which often get resolved when both parties come to an agreement.

As the world of Internet based TV solutions trundles ever onwards a spat has happened between two of the giants. There will be an agreement eventually but it is funny to see that they are just recreating what happens in the land of Broadcast.

Amazon in Youtube Blackout

 

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The rigours of life and television … is still the same as it ever was.


Let’s open with a quote from Colin Dixon’s (of NScreenMedia) well written article on TV viewing habits, where we are debating (in the comments) the merits of the small screen in the mix of viewing devices.  We all have our opinions on that.

On-demand, live, and online viewing peak at the same time

What is interesting and to me, and hardly a revelation, is that people all watch TV when they can or want to. It is generally around the same time, in the evening after work, after homework and after the kids bedtime (if you have some of course) – This is called PRIME TIME VIEWING – i.e. it is when you are most available to consume content uninterupted. So no matter where it comes from, Prime Time content is still Prime Time content.  The TV industry and ‘wannabee TV operators’ (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat et al) think they can all have you as their sole Prime Time viewer…

I have covered this time and time again – Despite all of the content that is available, on all of the systems we have, we all have a limited window of time that we can offer this particular entertainment medium.  Most stats reveal that it is the same window of opportunity on a per country basis, which is enough for the news, a couple of TV shows and/or a film.  There is simply too much TV available today to fill everyone’s 15 years-of-lifetime-TV-viewing (yes we spend around 15 years of our lives in front of the TV).

Nothing new: Rebecca Lake a financial journalist from North Carolina – published this in 2015

What’s the most popular time of day for watching TV?
Prime time is when the majority of viewers are tuning in, with nearly 2 hours of daily TV watching taking place between 8 and 10 pm. Daytime TV airing between 11 am and 4 pm comes in second, with people watching about 1 hour and 40 minutes on average.

However when Robots take over our jobs we will have more time to watch much, much more .

The Reality of the Lazy TV Audience


So let me start with a few extracts from a blog piece that was written by Mr. Will McKinley a New York writer and author. Why? Well, I want this subject matter (Streaming versus Linear TV) to not be seen as my opinion (because I don’t have the clout when it comes to people taking note of what I say … But I do say things that other more famous people say, often way before them – Sometimes that is frustrating. Sometimes it reassuringly delights.)

I love the convenience of streaming. It’s thrilling to have easy access to every episode of shows (and movies) I love, and have loved for my entire life. But, in a landscape where there’s so much choice, having everything can almost feel like having nothing. There’s no call-to-action, no immediacy, no reason why I should watch one thing over another right now. But perhaps more importantly, there’s no shared experience…

But perhaps most importantly, a linear network means that someone else is doing the work for you. Because sometimes you just want to plop down on the couch and watch, not assemble your own custom lineup from across multiple streaming platforms (and I speak from experience, because I subscribe to pretty much all of them)…

Will on-demand streaming be a dominant force in TV? No doubt. In a sense, it already is. But creatively curated linear programming will always be an important option. They call TV viewers couch potatoes, not couch amateur TV executives for a very good reason. Never underestimate the laziness of the American public.

While this ‘Linear versus Streaming TV’ narrative plays out across the world, it was interesting to see at IBC 2016 show in Amsterdam that TV technologists can now introduce SVOD content into EPGs as if it were a Linear channel. There are also companies that will, for a small fee per annum, curate Free on-line programmes for you (e.g. Rabbit TV’s Freecast) so that you do not have to do the hard work of being your own amateur TV executive – Thank you, Will McKinley, for that expression, which I too have used in many previous articles to express the burden TV viewing is becoming.

Let’s not forget that TV, despite its modernisation, is a product that has to appeal to the masses. i.e. The old, not so old and the very young. I don’t like to use the term Millennials because they too will have life-events that will make them lazy couch potatoes. So as far as the majority of TV viewers is concerned, being entertained must not be hard work. So if TV streaming becomes the norm, we will be expected to be our own TV show curator, which means that we will end up stuck in a viewing rut, as our limited knowledge of what is available from the global pool of entertainment is limited by our ability to memorise the planet’s content. Yes, we are we now expected to take the cognitive burden of knowing what content is available from what provider and whether we have already seen it or not by having to dig through all the buried content.

Live broadcasts are also an opportunity to encourage sampling by channel-surfing new viewers, in a way that streaming will never offer.

I agree with Mr. McKinley when he says that we still need the lazy person’s option for a long time to come.

A Short Play Called ‘The Death of TV’


Setting the scene: The evening light is dimming.  It’s 8pm and the children are snuggled down in bed and the husband says,  “Dinner is almost ready honey, can you find us something to watch on TV?” …

 

Picking up the remote the wife switches on the TV …

“I don’t know darling!” “Why not honey?”  “Because there is only a bunch of icons on the TV and I cannot see any TV shows, that guide thingy we used to have, it’s gone darling!”  “Gone! Why would they do that honey, it was very convenient.”  “I heard that you are supposed to know what you want to watch darling, you just ask for it now.”  “Really honey, OK!”  “Are there more programmes like that documentary on South Africa we saw the other night?”  “Maybe darling, what was the programme called?” … “Ermm, what channel was it on?”  “I cannot remember darling.” “Neither can I honey.” “Oh!” “Now what shall we do?” … “Ask the TV honey its got that voice thingy activated.”  …

Wife fiddles with remote control – pushes button …

“TV,  Can you find me any travel programmes about South Africa, but not about South Africa as we have seen that, what about somewhere else please.”

Screen icon turns … searching … searching … searching … TV replies

“Can you be more specific, I have 24,000 programmes on South Africa and 30,000 programmes not on South Africa and I have several shows called Somewhere Else.”  “I have them in English, Greek, Spanish, Arabic, French, Portuguese, Polish, German and 25 other languages, what do you want me to do?”

8.45pm: “Have you found anything honey?” “No darling, I’m afraid not … its not that instant anymore.”  “Shall I put the radio on honey?”

The End.

If I Can Talk To My TV Aren’t TV Apps Dead?


The subject of this piece is navigation, search and recommendation on modern day television platforms. The standard way of navigating through the hundreds of channels via the Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) is heavily criticised. The EPG is called antiquated; Linear TV channel and programme line-ups are very old-fashioned is all we hear.  Surely we have a better system?  We know we do and it is called Apps!  The future of Television is Apps is it not?  After all we do Apps on the telephone, tablet, so why not on the TV? Let’s have an Apps dashboard approach for the navigation of content.

Simple! Errrm! Nope!

An Apps driven navigation platform expects everyone to have a mental programme/film database for the plethora of coloured tiles (Apps) that hide content within them.  As we split the content into a myriad of ‘coloured tiles’ on an interface, we all start only watching the top ten that we can remember.  There are thousands of programmes that do not get watched, not because the content is bad,  but because it just never appears anywhere.  Then the Apps all need to fight it out for prime position on the 42″ screen. Everyone wants to be the only entertainment theatre in town, so it is a real-estate war (As it is on the EPG).  Just as in Google search if you are not on the 1st page between 1 and 10 you are purportedly toast.  Android TV just added 600 Apps.  This is just the start.  So is there an answer to rid us of all of this fragmented, App, coloured tile, buried content complexity?  Can we offer a better system that makes it easier for the consumer? Well, it seems we can. It is already deployed. It is called voice!

“Hello! Is it ME your looking for?” Yes, we can just talk to the device and ask it for something to watch. Yes, we can just ask the device for a particular film, programme or TV personality and the system will present all the options available to us across the TV eco-system. It is called Universal Search and it is a new way of navigating the millions of programmes available on the system. Simple! As we travel around all the TV business to business seminars, people are raving about this new system and how this system is the saving grace for accessing all TV content.

Wait a minute! Does this not mean the end of the App? Because in the case of Universal Search it quite honestly does not matter behind which brand a particular content features anymore, does it? It’s just stored somewhere, and we ask for it with voice and then it is presented in a selectable list. No need to bother yourself with what sits behind what App; woohoo! Who cares whether it is is Hulu or Netflix, or NowTV or Roku or ESPN or Disney it is the content that we want to watch … So we just ask for the content and it will appear!

Simple.

Wait a minute! As we will never see anything presented in any format in this new buried content paradigm how will we get to know what content is available across all of our services connected to our TV? Perhaps we can go back to the old paper TV Guide and can look up content that is available (Like a Karaoke Catalogue) and then holler to the device so it can do all the work. The TV industry can then stop wasting money on all this Apps malarkey and the need for continual software upgrading, supporting of all their complex individual back-ends et al. The TV world can just fill a big repository with wonderful content and go about promoting it…We as consumers will get what we want when we want where we want, by asking for it…and in any language.

Wait a Minute! How will the content be monetized? Well, as it will be true ‘a la carte’, so you only pay for what you watch, or not, if it is Ad supported.

Simple.

I believe that Amazon has already hatched this plan …

HDR – I Have Seen The Light


cartoongoHDR was a finalist in the DTG Innovation Awards, and had a presence on the DTG stand at IBC 2015.  This is the first time that I have seen the light as far as HDR is concerned.  Up until now I have not seen any good reason as to why HDR should be advertised as a ‘product’, rather than a technology ‘feature’ or ‘option’ for the TV industry.  Desperate times needs desperate measures I suppose, especially in a market where 3D flopped and 4K is being chased by 8K.    At the IBC 2015 show all the furor was around HDR offering brighter, better pictures, however I finally saw a real and very good practical use for the technology being demonstrated by goHDR a spin-off from the University of Warwick, England.

goHDR was able to show how HDR technology can be used to enhance ‘segments’ of the screen or ‘items’ in the shot. i.e. in difficult lighting conditions (e.g. outside broadcasting) at, let’s say, St Andrews, you could highlight a golf ball and track it in a cloudy sky enhancing its visibility as a unique enhanced HDR object … and there were many other examples of other use-cases.  In simple terms goHDR could be described as the video version of Dolby Atmos, with its manageable ‘sound-objects’…For those who are not familiar with Atmos, you are now able to manipulate sound objects to create an immersive multi-dimensional environment in a theatre.  Imagine hearing a helicopter that is flying from behind you, over your head and then enters the screen, or an arrow shot towards you flashes past your left ear and you hear it fly past … OK, OK it’s got to be heard to be believed.  It is truly amazing.  However in this story HDR was invented for video and designed to enhance the picture quality of a TV in both HD and UltraHD.  Without the technobabble, HDR is simply all about high contrast at the pixel level that creates depth and dimension and makes colors seem punchier…however it is applied to the whole picture on the TV, not objects in the scene as shown by goHDR.

The technology that goHDR demonstrated has to be fully analysed for its relevance to TV and whether or not it really does what it says on the tin,  however, the basic understanding is that it really has taken HDR to a new place and, by the way, it works very well on handheld devices.  Suffice to say I saw its relevance in Surveillance i.e. HD & UltraHD CCTV, also for Military, Scientific, Broadcasting, Medical and many other areas where you might want to manipulate a segment or item in a video using HDR for optimum effect.  I feel that I have seen the light and can now be more positive about this technology.  But hey! Don’t let me tell you the story, let the wonderfully ebullient Professor Alan Chalmers explain it to you at goHDR explained his enthusiasm is uplifting.

UBER BE SCARED: Ordering a Taxi on Television


OpenMaps liftago-taxi-1-thumb

UBER BE SCARED –  It appears that you have a new competitor – The wonderful world of HBBTV has delivered its latest ‘App’ and it may rock the Taxi App World of the Smart-Phone … I cannot imagine when you might be watching TV and suddenly think – I will order a Taxi ! … Well the Czech Republic thinks so.  Good luck with that!

Apple Talks Humans Not Algorithms – When Will The TV Techies Realize This?


tvoldApple said this about discovering music: The Guardian Story on Apple Music

“Algorithms are really great, of course, but they need a bit of a human touch in them, helping form the right sequence. Some algorithms wouldn’t know that Rock Steady could follow Start Me Up, y’know. That’s hard to do,” says Iovine.
Perhaps this is what I have been trying to say all along regarding ‘recommendation engines’ for Television and my fear that we will just turn TV viewing into a homogeneous clump of nothingness.

“You have to humanise it a bit, because it’s a real art to telling you what song comes next. Algorithms can’t do it alone. They’re very handy, and you can’t do something of this scale without ‘em, but you need a strong human element.” “Understanding that i have a lot of Latin music in my library doesn’t give me a great Cuban playlist,” adds Cue.

Quite honestly it is the same for TV and just because I like a ‘Chick Flic’ now and again does not mean that I want to watch all the ‘Chic Flics’ in the world now does it – Well the Algorithm thinks I do.  VARIETY in TV, as in MUSIC, has always been my mantra – Variety is the Spice of Life.

Thank you famous Apple people for stating what I have been stating for years…It’s the ‘HUMAN’ factor that counts.  ‘ALGORITHMS’ may have a place in our techie driven TV world but they should not be the only thing that determines anyone’s evening entertainment.

Bundles: TV is Merely Changing the Transmission Media Not The Business Model


TV Will Never Be Free
TV Will Never Be Free

Telco managed TV services (i.e. IPTV) had a great deal of issues obtaining content and it struggled terribly.  Some thought it would be built on UGC (User Generated Content).  However #YouTube stole that crown.  Many Telcos bundled it with the Broadband offer and then ticked you off as a TV Subscriber; whether you watched it or not.  Unfortunately it offered a lesser experience and needed linear TV to make it palatable to the average consumer.  In the main, people just want to be fed TV programmes and not have to be their own ‘channel-line-up’ producer each time they sit in front of the box.  We are inherently lazy and Millenials are no different – If anything their attention span kills the theory of sitting down and selecting a nights viewing by App scanning; especially after a hard days work on a screen.

This New Yorker (below) story about bundles growing on Internet or Web TV is fascinating as it looks at the TV Subscription angle.  However I felt that the story should have dug much deeper.  The author should have looked at the garnered revenue from subscriptions and investigated where that money relates to content:  i.e. Explore the way content is funded because this is also an important factor in the business model of TV and the bundle, be it over-the-air, over cable or over the Internet.  Here is an article that @TimWu could reference: http://abovethecrowd.com/2010/04/28/affiliate-fees-make-the-world-go-round/ 

Here is the full New Yorker Article:
http://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/the-dreaded-bundle-comes-to-internet-tv

Extract:
“But those who predicted that the Internet would kill the bundle may have spoken too soon. Internet TV, in fact, is now growing its own bundle—the so-called “neo-bundle.” This year, Dish television and Sony have begun selling a version of Internet television that centers on a bundle, albeit one that is smaller and cheaper that the original offered by cable companies. Dish’s Sling is the most exciting and enticing: it offers ESPN and twenty other channels for twenty dollars a month. (You add an extra fifteen dollars if you want HBO). Sony’s Vue has fifty or so channels, for fifty dollars a month, but no ESPN or HBO. Apple, meanwhile, is likely to launch its own version in the fall.

In short, instead of the Internet killing the bundle, the bundle is coming to the Internet; it would not be surprising if, in the next year or two, half a dozen more neo-bundlers join the game. This may come as a surprise to those who expected the television of the future to resemble, say, a smartphone screen, where every channel would be roughly like an app that you subscribe to à la carte. But overestimating change in the television industry is a rookie mistake.”

P.S. By the way, RabbitTV already bundles ‘free-content’ for you for a small fee.  Which gives kudos to my theory that we are all lazy when it comes to TV viewing.  “I’ll pay 10 bucks to someone to do it for me instead so I can just watch it instead of wasting all that time searching & selecting.”