Once upon a time we switched on the TV and watched a programme or two, in the evening after we had tea, when the kids were in bed and it was time to settle down to relax. TV Time was limited as the TV signal would shut down at night and eight-year-old Carole Hersee would appear (in the UK at least). We had a choice amongst Light Entertainment and Drama, Documentaries, News and Sport all chosen for us and delivered when somebody else thought best.
Life is a little different now because:
Today we want TV at Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere and we want to watch What We Want, When We Want, Where We Want. We want to watch Live TV, with the use of Pause and Rewind Live TV. And if we miss missed the beginning of something we need Start Over TV so that we can go back to the beginning of the programme that we have joined late. We need Catch-Up TV for shows we have missed. We need to Store Live TV programmes for later viewing on a Hard Drive (Personal Video Recorder) or a Removable Storage device with the possibility of using Series Recording for Binge Watching. We also want to be able to Side Load content onto a Companion Device to consume later when in the garden, or perhaps travelling on a bus or train. We want a Whole Home PVR system or Network PVR so that we can have Follow Me TV that allows us to start watching in one room and then take the content into another room and join it from where we left off in the other room. We want Companion Screen driven TV Everywhere so we can Throw and Fetch programmes from those devices to different screens in the home. We want Over The Top TV so we can have non-Linear content and not be restricted to a Schedule. We want Interactive TV with Applications that allow us access to Weather, or Horoscope or Games and a lot of other stuff all delivered over the Cloud and Home Network. We want to be able to Search for, and Recommend content to other people on Social Media. We don’t want this on a STB or CPE we want all of this on a Smart or Connected TV, in 3D or Ultra HD 4K or perhaps Super Ultra HD 8K. We need it in High Dynamic Range, so that we get the best quality on a Curved OLED, millimetre thick, Flatscreen TV: 24 Hours a Day, 7 Days a Week, 365 Days of the Year completely uninterrupted.
TV Content has however NOT broken the boundaries that technology has. Geo-Blocking, Distribution Rights, Landing Rights, Syndication, Franchising and all that shenanigans is hindering and hampering not helping, other than to further slow the transformation of TV – Perhaps that is a good thing?
When 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.
If you look at the world through a pair of eyes then naturally we surmise that there might be more, especially considering the lack of use of the most part of our brain…therefore specialists stating that we might neurologically partake of data and images in the future is quite plainly stating the bleedin obvious don’t you think…Its a natural thought process not actual established fact.
I am vexed at this though! Why? Because I see that we strive forward as a collective group of mostly engineers hell-bent on trying to convince the world that 3DTV is the next step…when it may damage eyes to the point that we had better, and pretty soon find the answer to the absorbtion of images neurologically because we may be on route to blinding a generation….The folly of the human being and the “no sir, nicotine is not harmful!” attitude of businessmen is a frightening legacy!
If IBC 2010 was lackluster then IBC 2011 was a damp squib. There was no real hype, no buzz and certainly no crowd pullers. In 2007 the Rugby World Cup was on and many, many stands took advantage, using it as their crowd puller. This year it hardly featured and those that had it saw fairly meager gatherings. As we are right in the middle of a totally disrupted market many Companies had their principal offerings hidden in private rooms or on stands that needed invitation to view. The rest was HD viewing and fancy remote controls. This tells me that there is flux and change coming but the industry does not know in which direction it will eventually head. As with 3DTV and 3D UIs it was all proven to be a flop over the year. 3DTV is and in my opinion will never be mainstream viewing for another decade or more. So will the ‘TabletTV’ and this ‘Whole-Home-Solution’ with Gateway be the answer or will the “under $100” STBs still be the Broadcaster & Operators mantra when push comes to shove in an economic downturn? Will the CE manufacturers falter in the Connected TV space? Will the Regulators wake-up and see that TV is in a fragmented mess across Europe and react accordingly?
There were no answers at IBC 2011 and the last two years have shown that we are a ship looking for a port! It turns out that Convergence = Divergence. There are still no answers as to what is the real future of Digital Television Broadcasting, only many more questions?
CE Manufacturers heading towards a zero sum with respect to TV margins have decided that the way forward is to compete with the Broadcasters they used to slavishly serve. They have been revealing the future at IFA and that future is depressingly fragmented. Each CE manufacturer believes that a Connected TV will allow them to become ‘Private Broadcasters’ with TV Portals, IPGs and Applications. The mainstream Broadcasters are trying to keep their Business by offering Hybrid Broadcast Broadband but not all of them. What a disservice this is doing to the Consumer. This is apparently considered healthy competition. What poppycock! It is a fragmented disarray…SD, HD, 3D, OTT, Interactive, Smart TVs but not Smart people nor Smart Regulators who have let the Corporations fleece the Consumer and treat them all like ‘Guinea Pigs’ in a European Digital TV Laboratory.
Every Tom, Dick & Harry want to be in TV and offer TV Content Portals…Even Starbucks, Norwegian Pizza chains and a plethora TV Manufacturers are in the game. You cannot get a plumber or builder but you can easily find a geek to build you a TV Portal! Where is the ROI on these TV Portal activities? Does Philips, Sony, LG, Panasonic sell any more TVs in a saturated business because of a TV Portal? Apparently TV are NOT being connected to the Internet even though they are Connected TVs, Apps are what they are – fun for a while. Who knows because nobody will reveal their figures. 3DTV failed and is going away quietly, Cisco cutting back by shutting down a STB manaufacturing plant…Echostar brave enough to shut down its IPTV offering! What more is there to come? Will this be a catalyst for the realities of the need for ROI in the TV Business? Will we see more people like the CE manufacturers drop their fragmented and surely wasteful investment in a Connected TV service. The financial crisis is not over so we will certainly have to watch this space.