IPL-YouTube

February 7, 2010

I have been wanting to write about the IPL deal with YouTube for quite a few days. I think it is truly a ground-breaking step. For YouTube, and definitely sets IPL’s image as an innovative organisation.

First reaction from anyone in the industry: What do IPL stand to make out of it? Could they not have made more money by selling it to Murdoch? I am not aware of the financials of the deal, but its not too difficult to imagine that both the companies would have worked it out such that they will stand to benefit as the viewership would grow. Remember, in today’s age of TV, we do not sell projected millions of viewers to advertisers or sponsors, or pay the rights fee on such basis. We pay per view. So there.

From what the information says so far, the interface would allow viewers to chose their own camera angle, play the action replay as they like, have access to instant stats, and even allow them to chat with each other. Finally TV over IP goes web2.0 and social. YouTube=1: iPlayer=0.

My only wish: This interface becomes available on my TV, or anyother DLNA supported device and does not restrict me to my laptop screen. Not too much to ask for.  Somehow, I still have not figured out how to watch TV on a laptop lying on a couch or in bed, and not roast my thighs in the process. Besides, this is something that would really make Sky and Setanta wish they move faster than they are thinking at the moment.

If I am from the old days of calculating reach and frequency and GRPs, and have always had a problem with how accurate they were, this is my heaven. Just the sheer amount of analysis that this arrangement would allow is a media planners’ dream. What cameras were more popular? Where should I maximize my on-ground signage? How many, from where, at what time? Time-shifted or live? What’s the viewership of a bumper before an on-demand replay? Video analytics on steroids. Not just that. the cnsumer engagement ideas of the next generation too. Can I do a user-gen exercise and allow users to cut their own highlights of a game and publish it online courtesy my brand?

This is ground breaking. Mark my words, we will all be doing it sooner than we think we would be. Live broadcast on YouTube started from U2Ube, it’s probably not going to stop now.

Sky 3D

January 28, 2010

The latest buzz in the world of 3D is the Sky 3D channel that launches in April, and what more, this Sunday they broadcast Arsenal versus Man United in 3D. You need a 3D ready TV (one of those new ones), and special glasses to view this. And you will need to be at one of the nine pubs across UK.

I do think this 3D innovation is marvelous. But I do have a problem with Glasses. I just dont think it makes viewing TV the social experience that it is. Also, if you need glasses, why can you not watch it on an ordinary TV? Like the Channel 3 D week that just happened?

What do you guys think? The consumer excitement is high.

3D TV. Hype versus Reality

January 20, 2010

By Hype versus Reality I do not, at all, mean that 3D is all hype.  In fact the only thing I stand to question is the immediate value and quality of the 3D versus the immediate “buzz” that specially CES has created for it. 3D is a reality. It is here. Without the need for having those glasses that we wear to the cinema. But then there are a few things we need to keep in mind.

3D TV works almost like an optical illusion by sending two different images to our left and right eye. Which means that the “films” production process would be special too. Like anyother TV technology, converting the entire production chain to be 3D is going to have to go through its cycle. Remember, the HD broadcast discussions started in mid 1980s, and they became a reality mid 2000s.  There would be discussions on broadcast standards, usual fights over formats of storage (like we had with BlueRay) and what not. I am not aware of any standardisation discussions that may have started- I am sure they have though.

There is also an issue of technology adoption by the whole value chain of broadcast. Only about 30% of the TV content on-air is true HD at the moment- even on the HD channels. Technology adoption cycles have become much shorter these days, but the cost of this “switch over” needs to be kept in mind. Any broadcast and production infrastructure is expensive.

Secondly, there is two ways of getting this content. Much like HD. You can “upscale” the existing content to look like 3D, and there is originally produced 3D. You should be able to imagine the difference. There would always be “Avatars” of the world for a cutting edge 3D experience, but we need to keep in mind that unless “Desparate Housewives” becomes 3D, nothing much would have changed. You know what I mean?

Thirdly, the existing technology is best viewed at 0 degrees, i.e. from right infront of the TV. You can view it at other angles, but its not the same. The quality of the current screen is also less than that of a modern 2D HD screen.

Fourthly, where do you see the lowest hanging fruits for 3D? I think gaming and commercial public screens (for advertising in Malls, Trains, etc) would be the first ones to jump to it. Also, do we know how much storage the 3D content requires? Can we put it on the existing BlueRay? Or would we need another format? Or would we be able to stream3D online? I see another video compression format coming up!

I see massive developments in this area, and of course the need for a lot of work. You?

Whilst adoption of DLNA among mainstream consumers is still very low, Samsung is actually making its @internet service quite useful by adding widgets and content to its service.

BBC just announced that the iPlayer would be available on Samsung TVs. It is a simple idea, and works well. I wonder if the iPlayer3 (the upcoming social version) would also be available on Samsung!

Streaming of content direct to TVs is potentially the biggest opportunity and one of the biggest disruptions to the conventional broadcast value chain. More so if the content producers start doing it themselves. This is likely to be the fastest growing area this year. Samsung have reportedly also signed a deal with MGM films. It is not a bad thought if they start offering access to a library of films just to the people who buy their TVs. I am sure a lot of people would switch to Samsung!

Making the DLNA interface really open source is the next big challenge for all the TV producers. At the moment, Sony, LG, Samsung all have their own versions of media servers- though they do work on some common ones as well. Sony has a lead in this all with their PS3 media server. Other manufacturers who do not really have a stake in integrating some of their other products with DLNA should really just work on a combined open source media server platform.

It sounds very basic, but Skype just finally announced that they will bring Skype video calls to various HD TVs.

Whilst this is just one of the many TV widgets that we would see in the near future, it is a magnificent example of how TV is set to become the communication hub for your home.

This is also the beginning of TV becoming “social”. I hear BBC are already beta testing the iPlayer3 which is set to incorporate Twitter as well as “video book marks” (to mark a certain portion of a programme) that you can share with the friends on your list. With iPlayer on Freesat, it is likely to be a major innovation for the UK market.

Video sharing would take a completely new meaning if such advances move ahead. YouTube is getting a lot of “long-form” traction from content producers, and their existing social infrastructure would begin to redefine how people engage with that content. Though one really wishes that Google do a good TV widget or even upgrade their AppleTV interface.

Now the question is, when would the TV audience measurement industry get down to doing Social GRPs?

Click here to watch what I am watching right now.

Click here to see that joke in HIGNFY I was talking about last night.

Didn’t work? Sorry. Check back in a few weeks time.

Multi Screen Content

October 29, 2009

Now that we know that the battle of the screens isnt a battle anymore, how is life for people who create content is changing?

Creating multi-screen content has been a discussion for quite some time. We all realise that it is much more than just the screen formats or the quality/ resolution of the picture that differentiates the content on these 3 screens. But what we have very little of is the understanding of how audio visual content consumption differs on these 3 screens.

We can have a point of view on what type of content is better suited for mobiles consumption versus big TV screens. The obvious conclusions, my fear is, might be simlistic and around duration of the content. Bite or snack sized consumption versus feature length viewing, etc. But what happens when the first “direct to mobile” movie is released? The phenomenon obviously is a response to not just video consumption on mobile, but a certain type of consumption on mobile. There would also be obvious points of on big screen versus small screen versus very very small screen viewing. The bigger the screen, the better the detail and impact of visual effects.

Would there be any other differences apart from that? Or are we in a position to answer the question of “What type of stories are better told on one screen versus the other”?  Answers that would help us create content specifically for consumption on a certain type of screen?

Does somene has access to online video data, mobile video consumption data, and set-top box data for us to be able to do some analyses? Or any interesting insights to share? Please leave your comments.

VOD Closer to Reality

July 31, 2009

One more news for Microsoft this week. The launch of their VOD platform in the UK. Their PR department seems to be running their business these days, with one objective in mind: be in the news! (If nothing else, they would show up on top in Google search results!!).

Jokes aside, this is a significant move in the world of VOD. They have toyed with supporting other platforms through XBox consoles, but venturing into a platform of their own is a first.  They also have the scale to take this beyond the Computer screen into living rooms via XBox, and into portable of course. They also seem to have cracked one of the most important elements of this type of venture- a collaboration with GroupM. I am not going to comment on that deal, but having the backing of a major commercial player behind your platform is a critical factor.

The only other critical factor would be their ability to get content. iPlayer, C4OD, and iTV interactive might look at this as competition in short term, but truly they all know their content would be better off on a cross channel platform rather than being on properietary service. But it is going to take some time. Given that Kangaroo is almost dead, and Hulu might come in to the UK in October, they need to hurry up to pile up inventory of programming- both from the UK and perhaps source some from the US (which would be a tough battle given Hulu’s access to programmers at the moment).

One challenge that they world face is: How do they crack and standardise advertising effectiveness measurement on VOD? Good luck with that boys. It is a complicated area. Do not add yet another layer to it I would say trying to invent something of your own. Tap into an existing matrix.

So it is happening. Finally. Adobe has partnered with TV manufacturers to incorporate Flash directly into TV sets to enable video players, widgets and applications. A step forward towards really converging TV into a smart internet enabled entertainment platform. What is next? Operating platforms and standards for TVs? I have a feeling Windows Media Centre is a thing of the past unless they innovate fast. And for all you know Android might jump up to offer a standardised environment to the likes of Samsung. Touch screen TVs should also not just be restricted to CNN anymore, and will soon be in home. Anyone up for a Giant Android screen or a 50 inch screen iPod touch?

Only if Apple could put this all together in a neat and clean design, and not restrict us to a Quicktime format, we will all be very happy. But such is not life. We will have to live with a less ideal world before our dream screen comes to life. This is just the start of the convergence, and open-source, standardisation, and other such boring debates will have to wait for a bit.

A brief history of TV

April 16, 2009

tv-for-eddy1

Something that I put together recently through different sources. I may have missed out on some major events in the history of TV. Please leave your comments and point me to those events,  and I will update this chart. you might need to download it to view it properly.  If you are not able to view it properly, send me a message and I can email it to you.

In the world of on demand content and the fragmented world of digital platforms, it is fairly important for search to work properly for Videos.  After simply just playing with the idea for quite sometime, some of the big names in the industry are really beginning to crack it.

YouTube has its own way of searching for video files that benefits from not only the tags but also google’s search intelligence.  TiVo just recently annoucned their new search function.  Fairly comprehensive though, it only allows you to search through data that sits “outside” of a video file. Not the most cutting edge way of video search, but given its TiVo the usage of this is likely to widerspread and at least it recognises the need for a must have function for the future of Video.

How does the search currently work in Video? Well the simplest way is to search for “tags” associated with a video file, or search for terms within the video file names. Now that is not very effective, as the tags and the name cant possibly fully describe whats inside a video file or in the content, can it? To offset this, some of the set-top box manufacturers including TiVo search through “closed captions” (subtitles for instance) or the Electronic Program Guide data alongside a video file to search for the contents of the video file. It would allow you to even search for scenes with famous quotes from the movies (The BigMac scene from Pulp Fiction for instance). Whilst very useful, its still a very 2008 way of searching for video, and a very cumbersome one that too.

Then there is Blinkx (www.blinkx.com). They have a pretty impressive video portal that actually searches through the contents of a video file, and delivers you the search results. For example you can look for a particular word and see how many video files are returned. A much better schema for search then “tags”. They seem to have been looking for opportunity in the area of direct to consumer, but in my opinion their biggest opportunity is in franchising their technology direct to businesses like TiVo.  Not sure if they are already doing it, but they are the next generation of search in video, and can really help move the game forward.

The more the amount of content available to watch digitally, the more the need for search. The good news is, that the solutions are here today. Only if the industry can push those forward.