Monday, April 03, 2006

Piping internet to the TV tube (4)

Reflecting on the subject of internet to the television, I was left with many questions and observations.

1. IP television is not just about distributing television over the telephone line. It is also about video signals, which can be picked up from internet. So the sources will be internet, the broadcast industry worldwide, healthcare and retail.
2. Who is going to buy all these boxes, including the remote controls. UPC is giving them away free. Lamabox and P2Pod are interesting for video addicts. Sitecom is interesting if you want to have internet piped onto your TV screen as it is part of the home network. But who wants all these boxes? Not the consumer. Presently we see the phase of early adaptors, while the rest of Dutch consumers are oblivious to the phenomenon. Two million Dutch households will receive a settop box from UPC, whether they like it or not, and see this as a converter for the television signal from analogue to digital. Whoever does not get a UPC settop box, will sit back and wait the war of boxes and operators is over.
3. Do the consumers (now mainly cable subscribers) want to have internet video to their television? I am wondering. They will worry that they will not get BBC1; they might like Video-on- demand; a few could worry about not getting the internet video offer of (legal and illegal) movies and most likely could not care less about the other internet video streams.
4. Who is going to bring all these video streams together, sort them out in legal and illegal streams, produce an Electronic Programming Guide for them and make an offer to ISPs, telcos and cable operators. Will there be a trusted party coordinating all this?
5. Will the consumer accept a content offer around which the operators have placed a walled garden: no BBC, no Tell sell home shopping, no porn video-on-demand, etc? The consumer might have theoretically access to all the video streams in the world, but will he be limited by the operator?
6. Should public and commercial broadcast companies make alliances. Yes, they should in order to test the concepts and the distribution. But they should be careful in choosing their partners.

Looking back at the iMMovator Café, it was a very interesting event. It demonstrated that television will never be the same again, regardless all the efforts of the broadcast stations to keep their audiences. It also made clear that what is happening will take some years to crystallise. The war of boxes will have to be fought, the content offer will have to be organised and last but not least, the operators/ISPs will have to get their marketing strategy right.

My guess is that for the time being people will sit back and listen to all the promises. So far they could not get the streams of the Olympic Games on their computer, so why believe all the promises. Versatel is still struggling with getting soccer into the home. And do people have the time to watch all video streams available through internet on PC as well as TV and never mind mobile.

It would be interesting to revisit this subject with the same parties and new parties next year: same place, same time.


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