Miniweb believes it has commonality with the BBC Canvas proposals. Julian Clover reports.
The appearance of Canvas, the BBC IPTV proposition has like its slain cousin Kangaroo sparked a raft of companies to declare that they too are Canvas-like. Ian Valentine, founder and chief architect of the Sky spin-off Miniweb says there are some common ideals between Miniweb and Canvas but that it is only a solution for part of the market. He argues that Miniweb is itself a catalyst for a shared platform in a world where none of the content will actually talk to each other.
Miniweb has shifted its position in the market, the TV Keys concept that allows viewers to directly enter a web-like area while remaining in the TV environment is still there but is now at the centre of an eco-system that puts web-style advertising and interactivity on the TV.
Miniweb CEO Andrew Carver says the company is now talking to network operators in the pay-TV space, positioning Miniweb as an enhancement to the platform as part of a hybrid play. Even before Canvas appears there were a slew of hybrid products appearing, both directly from operators who saw two delivery mechanisms could ease network pressure and offer additional content, and people like Complete TV that used IPTV to bring in speciality channels as part of a Freeview DTT proposition. “Broadband is a small add-on and delivers recurring revenues,” says Carver. “Once a device is on a network it is capable of picking up from the open internet.”
Carver is concerned that the arrival of Canvas will fragment the market, at least putting the brakes on the sector while the other players try to figure out what’s going on. “Canvas needs Miniweb more than Miniweb needs Canvas,” adds Valentine.
“It’s now recognised that the killer ap is broadband video, more time and more hours are being spent in front of a device and it is now a matter of monetising that.” Valentine says TV Keys remains fundamental to Miniweb and that nothing has taken away the need for the customer to be told where the content is.
Might it be that Miniweb provides the foundations for smaller operators to offer the content that they could not afford to deliver through the licence fees of OpenTV and Microsoft. According to Valentine not even the US advertising venture Canoe is in a position to deliver a common Ecosystem.