IPTV World Forum reflected a change in the emphasis given to internet-delivered television, writes Julian Clover.
Something felt different about the IPTV World Forum this time around, perhaps reflecting the knowledge that as a delivery mechanism it has now found its place in the market, as hybrid and over-the-top based services begin to take centre stage.
There has been no wholesale exodus from the existing pay-TV platforms as viewers opt for IPTV, the greater threat has arguably been from DTT. In France, one of Europe’s IPTV hotspots it has been the cable free areas where penetration is at its greatest. Even in Belgium, where the incumbent telco Belgacom has developed one of the more successful platforms, Telenet is hardly suffering. If anything it is a towering example of best practice.
But the contrast between BT Vision and FiOS, the IPTV platform operated by the US carrier Verizon, was marked. Terry Denson, the company’s vice president of programming and marketing walked us through the offer available in the six of the ten largest market sin the US where FiOS is available. He admitted weaknesses, such as a lack of multicultural programming, and the absence of the NFL Sunday Ticket.
But from Denson there is no “we’re offering a content for those people who don’t like soccer”, Instead FiOS has its NFL Redzone, a compilation of highlights and live action, and what’s more 20% of those who have signed up to the Redzone have done so through an interactive application.
For its part BT is talking about what it can do in the future, as opposed to what it has on offer for its subscribers right now, suggesting that Canvas is just as important to the telco as it is to the BBC.
The exhibition floor might have moved up a gear, perhaps it had lost a few stands, but that was inconsequential as those who filled Olympia stood tall and had a purpose. Having accepted that pure IPTV may not deliver the promise of PowerPoints since deleted, connectivity and networking has become the order of the day.
New Pace acquisition Berwan has added home security to the set-top box platform; EchoStar was using the SlingMedia technology as a means to distribute content around the house; others pipe it in from a master set-top box or offer the means to pick up viewing on a mobile.
NDS was demonstrating the Oona interface that harnesses existing metadata and uses it to provide contextual information or content from the Internet Movie Database through to YouTube. The significance being that this becomes a means for the pay-TV operator to indulge in a little one-upmanship over the Connected TV platforms of the TV manufacturers.
Oona is an example of how IPTV is fusing together with over-the-top content and hybrid boxes that pull in services from a variety of sources. It will always be possible to give examples of where IPTV has taken hold, but look around the map of Europe and you can already see there are countries where cable, satellite and even DTT have ascendency.