Julian Clover on how the BBC is measuring the shelf life of the connected TV.
For how long should you support a connected TV? The uncharitable would point to some brands and suggest it seems to be about six months as new features are brought in only on the latest models and owners of older sets are left to fend for themselves.
Daniel Danker, the BBC’s general manager of on demand, says he is keeping with the John Lewis principal. Never knowingly undersold Mr Danker joined me this week at a Royal Television Society event at the ITV Studios on London’s South Bank.
One of Britain’s most popular stores, John Lewis, will extend the first year manufacturer’s guarantee on large electrical domestic appliances to two years. But for its own brand items this guarantee extends to three years and for TVs this is five years.
Remember the replacement cycle of the TV has come down from 10 to about 7 years.
This doesn’t mean that the BBC’s market-leading catch-up TV service would disappear at the end of this warranty period. But the BBC, which currently has 610 variants of the iPlayer, has to draw the line somewhere.
Danker says the first iterations were actually more different than the latest versions, which have benefitted from the BBC sharing knowledge on previous deployments, something that also extends to its fellow broadcasters that still remain someway behind the corporation.
Simon Gauntlett, the DTG’s technical director, said he believed that manufacturers were disappointed that they had no really seen the ongoing revenue they hoped would follow the sales of connected TVs.
To the advantage of the third panelist, Ian Mecklenburgh, director of consumer platforms, Virgin Media the connected TV isn’t entirely a joined up experience, particularly when it comes to search. Virgin’s TiVo – and for that matter devices supplied by Sky, Freesat and YouView – provide a search through multiple broadcasters.
The DTG has recently published a new connected TV specification, which the organization says builds on HbbTV to align the UK with pan-European standards. But, says Gauntlett, Different countries have an ever so-slightly different specification, even if the manufacturers continue to plead for European-wide uniformity.
In an attempt to iron out some of these issues for the UK, the BBC is introducing the TV Application Layer (or TAL), which decouples applications from the underlying device complexities.
TAL was used for the BBC Sport applications during the London Olympics and hopefully means in the future the BBC will be able to swiftly introduce similar apps, say for Wimbledon or a General Election, which would run across a variety of different TV brands.