People are the Problem in Connected TV, Companion Screen TV, NOT the Technology


Fluxx Connected TV White Paper (link below) is a supposed guide that explains how the industry can solve the Connected-Companion Screen buiness.  Page 18 highlights exactly why there is a problem and does not give a credible solution, it merely points out technologies and what technology punters need to marry, fix or invent.   For example the IPG – OK an IPG and Search – Which IPG, Which Search Engine there are lots of them and they are all different and they all claim to do the job!  The UI/UX has been the fight of 2011 with NDS, TIVO, Inview, Espial, and many others all claiming they have the best system.    A one size fits all is what is needed – harmonised, standardised system…but human beings will never allow that to happen.  You can have any colour you want sir as long as it is black! Hahah!

I have been in Interactive Digital TV since 2000 and the Future of TV has little to do with the TV technology industry but more to do with the people working in this industry and their inate inability to work together for the good of the industry and the consumer.  I have seen many a company representative overly complicate initiatives, work negatively in consortia so that initiatives fail, create situations that inhibit harmonisation, becasue they have a proprietary solution or preferred partner that they want to sell ahead of all others…and I have seen corporations get greedy when it comes to IPR and obtaining their slice of the pie to the detriment of these harmonisation initiatives.  All the available technologies are iready for today’s successful interactive, 2nd screen market,  however people are unable to make it happen.  CE Manufaturers want to go it alone, Broadcasters want to go it alone, Operators want to control it all, Vendors believe they have the winning technology,  Programme makers and Advertisers are lcaught in the quagmire of technology gurus all claiming they have the answer.

The Interactive Companion Screen jigsaw is being put together by people who are blinkered by their company loyalty.  Only an independent, neutral technology body could ever harmonise the future of TV.  If we can align the people we can create the environment and head in the right direction with the right technology.  The latest round of attempts with Tablets and Smart-phones interactivity are failing miserably as everyone invents a new mousetrap and the interactive TV mess repeats itself once again…this is one phrase fluxx managed to get spot on.

What is likely to happen is that a dominat force a lot like Apple  will be selected over all others as happened in the digital Music industry download debacle.  However it may be someone unexpected such as Intel Media who are gathering the right minds to put the right strategy together for this particularly complex subject.

http://fluxx.uk.com/2013/03/why-the-connected-experience-revolution-is-yet-to-be-televised/

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


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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/

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.

Party Friends – Good Luck


I partied with a bunch of NDS folks at Cable Congress. It showed that despite our work and our rivalry we could share time together as just people! It was an early morning finish and it was fun. I am now trying to work out whether it was them celebrating the recent Cisco event (having prior knowledge) or whether they are just ‘party lovers’? Was the news this week also a shock to them as it was to the rest of the industry? My email and phone still rings with news, analysis and commentary! Will my ‘Party Friends’ now be concentrating on what the absorbtion by Cisco will do to or for them? If I were them I would be quietly apprehensive. Consolidation is necessary at so many levels in our industry, however when it happens it generally results in some carnage. I wish my ‘party friends’ well for the future! Good Luck!

Tivo Enters Gilette v Wilkinson Sword Razorblade Race (With Tuners)


Th Madness of TV …5 Tuners and 2 Terrabytes of storage – Watch 1 programme while recording 4 others – store 300Hours of TV in HD (WHY?) … There is not enough time to watch it all and live your normal life!

Consumer Guinea Pigs in a European Digital TV Laboratory!


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.