Linear or non-linear

That’s the question that arises for the future. Will linear TV (channel) watching gradually disappear in favour of on-demand (PVR, VOD, SVOD, online, downloaded etc)? Will broadband be the way to deliver all TV, even linear, despite being “less efficient”?

TvEarlyDay

The conventional wisdom is that change is slow and seldom 100%. Many industry reports suggest that SVOD is simply an “add-on” to payTV. Linear TV is important for many people today, and will be so in the foreseeable future. Here are two reports that provide some insight into where we are heading:

  • In the Netherlands linear TV watching is at 40%, though still the most popular category.
  • In the UK linear TV viewing stands at 60%.

This might well be due to broader availability of high bandwidth IP over cable, ADSL and fiber connections in the Netherlands, and more focus on traditional terrestrial and satellite broadcast delivery in the UK. But there are also differences in the TV content and distribution industries, and note that also the market research approaches may differ. It is tricky to compare the results; but the differences seem significant.

Linear or non-linear TV watching preferences may be something completely different than broadcast and online delivery, but there surely is a practical connection: non-linear TV needs online bandwidth.

Posted in OTT

Research: viewers prefer smart TVs for OTT

BroadbandTVNews reports on a “new” finding that Consumers like things integrated in their TV. Given the dynamic of streaming (OTT and/or in-Home and/or device-to-device) that is of course a moving target. But not exactly real news. Still: it is a confirmation of what should be generally known in the industry: integrated devices can offer a simpler user experience. The key reasons people like their streaming integrated in the TV is convenience of input-selection and a single remote.

Unfortunately the TDGresearch website offers little additional information.

Despite the widespread availability of inexpensive ancillary TV streaming devices, new TDG research finds that 32% of OTT TV Users prefer having the native connectivity of a smart TV.

Source: Research: viewers prefer smart TVs for OTT

Posted in OTT

FCC picks a hard battle

The FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has published an article outlining his perspective on the FCC push for forthcoming regulation that should open up access to payTV services to any kind of device. This to the great dismay of major PayTV companies as well as conservative (small government) advocates.

Tom takes the perspective of past network device markets (telephone handset, mobile phone markets) that were opened up with generally accepted success. Also the cost of renting a STB is a clear motivator: the monthly fees are high.

Let’s let innovators create, and then let consumers choose.

Herewith an article providing a short term perspective on the developing situation.

Here a response from the chair of the National Cable Association (NCTA) Powell (also former FCC chair) pointing to the fact that this regulation addresses a problem of past times and is just playing the hand of tech companies (e.g. Google) that do not want to negotiate their own content distribution deals. But the two arguments contradict each other: the tech companies would not care if this was really a “battle of the past”. He and the payTV companies do have a point that the current situation is not all bad: content is being watched on smartphones and tablets. But to be frank and honest: that is simply because cable companies could not stop it: they had to play along. Maybe the same model (app’s on a device) could work in the TV/STB domain – though it has to be said that that model indeed strongly favours Apple and Google.

cablecard

Cable card: well hidden in all USA settop boxes until recently

If you like more vitrol: here is Comcast’s reaction: “the payTV companies would have to disaggregate their service”. Inappropriate of course. The blog post seems to offer little to end consumers in terms of why this is in their bad interest, except the mention of previous mandates that did no good (Cablecard, 1394 output) that only cost money to payTV companies and their customers. Both to some extent for reasons that the cable companies wanted to integrate the services of content navigation and PVR in their “aggregated” offer on the STB: but that was not just a selfish idea – it is what they had to do from a practical perspective at the time. They just did (and do) not want to open up to thirds.

comcast1394stb

The way of the 8-track: 1394 on a Comcast STB. At least the 8-track had succes for some time in the USA.

Source: It’s Time to Unlock the Set-Top Box Market | Re/code

HbbTV 2.0: three steps forward

HbbTV2.0 brings a lot of innovations to HbbTV. Some of them seem logical: new codecs, better MPEG Dash profiles etc. Others a bit esoteric: sophisticated second screen synchronization: not your everyday issue. Nevertheless doing interactivity in conjunction withg broadcasting is starting to make sense using HbbTV. The article below makes a deep dive into some of the technicalities involved.

The next version of HbbTV is bringing a much more powerful toolset with it, and has the potential to change the current worldwide television landscape.

Source: HbbTV 2.0: Could This Standard Become the Future of Television?

OTT and DTT in the Netherlands

The latest development in the Dutch media landscape is that the Dutch broadcasters are aggregating their OTT and offering live streaming in one online platform. Dutch internet penetration is high. Access speeds are high based on pervasive, cable and decent A/VDSL and also gradually increasingly FTH infrastructure. Netflix took the Netherlands in no time.  As part of their TV everywhere offer Ziggo (cable) and KPN (fiber, telecom) already offered streaming content in homes and also outside homes (including over 3&4G networks, as regular data – i.e. not for mainstream watching).  KPN also intends to make a network indepedent OTT offer KPN Play.

NLZiet

Not to be outdone and gradually become insignificant the Dutch broadcasters are moving to stream their content online from one aggregated platform called NLZiet  indepedent of the network operator. For €8,- a month you can catchup 4000 episodes and without adds and (in the near future) watch live TV from all main and thematic channels. An app is available for iOS and it works with Chromecast and AppleTV. The Android app is in test phase. PC may follow.

With this much emphasis on online distribution and such high high-speed internet penetration one may wonder what the lifetime of DTT in the Netherlands still can be. KPN still operates the PayTV service Digitenne which has been jacked up in price all the time from €7 a month when it started to €14 a month now: this for essentially the basic broadcast channels and no catchup content. It seems that KPN is trying their utmost to move their Digitenne customers onto IPTV or KPN Play and stop DTT. The license is up for renewal in 2017. KPN seems not very eager to invest in DVB-T2 and HD. Dutch public broadcasters are considering to move in; if this would be permitted. There is also a plan to extend the Digitenne license for 3 years (which sounds like an end-of-life construct). KPN is also rumoured to test 4G broadcasting.

Source a.o. BroadbandTVNews: Dutch broadcasters test live OTT streaming