Broadcasters are being presented with new opportunities to offer content over the internet and just as importantly, monetise it, reports Julian Clover
One of the emerging trends of the past few months has been the desire of television manufacturers to add something new to their receivers. This is an ongoing process that goes back to the days of Logie Baird, but more recently takes in teletext, Nicam stereo, and of course HD.
This time it is new content and services, delivered from the open internet, which are gaining attention. It started in the US with Yahoo’s so-called widgets, seen on Samsung TVs in Europe and the United States, and also Sony and LG in the North American market. Sony also has its own Bravia Internet Link. Those of us that have enjoyed teletext for the last 30 years or so might wonder what all the fuss is about.
Canvas, the BBC-led IPTV protocol is about bringing additional content over the open internet, even if the means by which this will be achieved remains something of a mystery. But the ultimate aim is to bring programming to an audience that might not always be willing or able to subscribe to a pay-TV service.
The NDS Infinite TV project has been looking at just this type of audience, not just through the TV, but also PCs, portable media players and other mobile devices. A year ago NDS was running Flash-based demos, but this week a select group of journalists was able to see the technology now successfully ported onto a Pace-Phillips hybrid set-top.
Comparisons with Canvas are probably unfair, particularly as development on the Infinite TV was well underway when the BBC baby was just a Joey in its mother’s pouch.
NDS has been talking to the TV manufacturers, but also with those companies that might be able to supply the content. With its background in pay-TV NDS is carefully walking the line between opening up a new market segment and not annoying its existing customer base.
Programmes are quickly downloaded to the set-top box, though thankfully the progress bar has been eliminated, and new episodes held back until bandwidth is freed up.
It is possible to imagine some elements of Infinite TV being added to other technologies. For example when pausing content Infinite TV displays an advertisement often relevant to the programme being shown. The Flash-based system also makes it possible to deliver advertisements in a particular sequence and from established online ad providers.
Such technology could be extended to a ‘regular’ personal video recorder, maybe a smart advertising sales house could sell such a slot to the programme sponsor we use in fast forwarding to recognise when the commercials are about to end.