Connected TVs are here to stay, but getting them connected, and filling them with content is another matter. Julian Clover reports from the RTS in London.
There is something about connected TV that gives it a certain feeling of inevitability that you don’t necessarily pick up from 3DTV. James Cameron may believe that all television may soon dominate our screens, but he has a new movies and sports venture to support.
The support for connected TV was evident by the full house that turned out for the RTS London meeting on Wednesday. Richard Lindsay-Davies, director-general of the Digital TV Group (DTG) was alongside Richard Halton, CEO of YouView. The two organisations may have had their differences, but both are now headed in much the same direction, even if YouView’s road remains long and winding.
With the D-Book 7 just published there is now a firm footing for connected TV services. However, the market is potentially clouded by a variety of proprietary solutions released even as the DTG publication was being compiled. Lindsay-Davies pointed to the already shortening product life-cycles, he warned that it was entirely possible that a widget that to a customer was a vital part of their television service might be withdrawn even before a five-year guarantee was up. “Specify a product in haste and manage at it a leisure,” he said. Already manufacturers were concerned as to how they would be able to support services even over a five-year period. Standby for a new set of small print to those extended guarantees the high street stores are so keen to sell us.
One of the key issues with connected TVs is that consumers don’t always connect them up. This could be for any number of reasons and we have probably all been to meetings when manufacturers get excited that over half their connected TVs have been connected
As always it comes down to content – I know, it’s amazing that consumers don’t buy TVs based on the processor, well not yet anyway – and Halton wanted to emphasise the ability of YouView to deliver content. He also continued a recent theme that positions YouView as the successor to Freeview. “One thing that Freeview did very well is to explain digital TV in a sentence and that’s the heritage we have to build on.”
YouView is designed to be not for profit, but with the BBC Trust (and many others) keeping it in check there has to be a cost recovery. So with every 100 content providers potentially adding another million lines of metadata it all has to be paid for somehow. But so too the proprietary solutions. Lindsay-Davies suggested that one manufacturer was charging a commission of 30% to appear on its platform. Now that’s a carriage fee.