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Same message, different conclusions for speakers at UK TV summit

The first five slides of almost every presentation at the Connected TV Summit in London last week, were virtually identical – and they came in two fla

By PETER WHITE

Published: 26 May, 2011

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The first five slides of almost every presentation at the Connected TV Summit in London last week, were virtually identical – and they came in two flavors – either this is what’s happening and it’s all a disaster, or this is what’s happening and isn’t it great.

Half of the conference was given over to discussing the various merits of what we see as defunct platforms – it was HbbTV versus YouView, versus MHP versus MHEG 5, with nary a mention of Android or MeeGo or Linux. Oh yes and everyone kept saying that there was still a place for the local pay TV operator and broadcaster – said more like a wish than something they truly believed in.

We could have all gone over a set of slides at the door which said that all TVs will end up as connected TVs, that some 730 million broadband lines were capable of bringing HD video to devices, that broadband would opt for tiered service pricing and that in the future, any screen which cannot show TV will be laughed at.

The broadcasters bemoaned all these facts, the analysts and equipment vendors seem to love them and the pay TV operators just wanted to say how tough it all was to actually get this to work.

After those first few sides each speaker’s message deviated. We had people looking at each devices type, so for instance Paul Erickson of IMS Research thought that Blu-ray players were Trojan horses, as were gaming platforms and that they would become the key focuses to bring commercial video over the top to TVs. He also thought that all TV content would be IP within ten years, and fussed over why it couldn’t be five years – of course we agree with him, except it is likely to be at least 15 years. These things take longer than you initially think and this is take it steady Europe, not forge ahead America.

Other speakers such as Tore Meling, Digital Entertainment Director, Canal Digital, the Telenor subsidiary, complained about the task of actually trying to put together such a service – pointing out that the Content owner wants 50%, the CE TV makers wants 50% and his boss wants 50% and there just aren’t enough 50% chunks to go around. “Content owners want to negotiate per platform, per territory so it takes a year to put new content on just one new platform.” Perhaps that’s why everyone is still talking about putting content on an iPad, when clearly (we think so) Android is the big platform to be on. Perhaps that will be next year’s subject.

The other hue and cry came from companies telling us how difficult it is to get new widgets to work on connected TV, and the two companies Irdeto and Verimatrix, side by side on a panel about The Impact of Connected TV standards, were asked to “just take care of the security” both of which agreed that securing content on 20 different tablets, across multiple different broadband types, using different operating environments, made that tough, but it could “just about be done,” with the undertone of “just leave all that to us,” creeping into the conversation.

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