Julian Clover previews the trends the digital world will be talking about in 2010.
One of the most annoying phrases to be heard at a conference is likely to be on everyone’s lips in the course of the next 12 months. The ‘Martini moment’ is said to describe the ability to receive your television Anytime, Any place, Anywhere, after the tagline used by the ’70s lounge lizard’s drink of choice.
My preference is for TV Anywhere, the tag adopted by US cable for the delivery of content over television, computer and smart phone. It is also something that will can increasingly expect to hear about in Europe, Denmark’s YouSee already putting a PC-based offer in place, and UPC owner Liberty Global joining Cox and CableLabs in the DECE file format initiative.
For cable it is not just the ability to offer content onto other platforms, but also the ability for that content to travel through the pipes that operators already have in place for their triple play offerings.
Broadband capacity will undoubtedly become an issue, in some markets more than others. Through the BBC iPlayer the UK has one of the best on demand offers available, but sadly not the broadband infrastructure to match, it’s not just the speed but what happens if whole sections of people decide to watch the iPlayer at the same time. There is a creeping realisation that not everyone wants to watch catch-up TV on the PC and as hybrid set-tops become commonplace then so will the sort of fusion now being demonstrated by the likes of Canal+, Viasat and Freesat, which has an excellent implementation of the iPlayer currently in Beta.
The addition of iPlayer and later the ITV Player to Freesat is the UK precursor to Canvas. The German market already has HbbTV, the commercial implementation of Hybrid Broadcast Broadband (HBB), at the centre of the EBU’s plans to harmonise the area. One might ask why Cable Europe wants to create a further middleware to throw into the mix, but HBB and Canvas, like MHEG-5 and MHP before them are largely public plays by the free-to-air broadcasters. It doesn’t take too much working out that the pay-TV sector, including cable and the proprietary technologies that also serve IPTV and satellite might want to try and do something better.
A year ago we might have said high definition was the technology to watch, funny then that the world has already seemingly moved onto 3DTV before the dust has settled, or should that be largely deployed. Just as I was enthusiastic about HD, and still am, I cannot be convinced that 3DTV will at least for the next few years be nothing more than for the high-end enthusiast. But I’ve been wrong before and it is not just numbers but revenues.