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!
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.
I believe that Amazon has already hatched this plan …
goHDR 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.
Throw out your TV – TV as we know it is dead! There is a flourish of articles on the demise of PayTV with headlines such as ‘The Future of Television – Can Cable Survive?’ which I saw in Forbes online. All you youngsters who claim you dont need a TV subscription because its available cheaper elsewhere will have a shock coming when the money runs out and all you are left with is re-runs of old Films, Programmes and Documentaries….All of you out there that want ‘a la carte’ – That is: ‘what-you-want-when-you-want-where-you-want’, need to know what that will mean in terms of revenue and the financing of the content arm of the media industry. Despite the age of this post it is still relevant today and it is a subject also well covered by Mark Cuban a more famous blogger than I.
39 Billion Dollars in 2010 and probably higher around 50 Billion Dollars today feeds the Content Creation industry. If you talk about the demise of traditional PayTV you should also, in the same breath, talk about the demise of the Content industry. Please check out this very good discussion on the subject: How TV Content is Funded
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.