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.

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.

We, the people in the traditional media businesses, are strange creatures. Having been on top of 90% of the media revenues for years and years our beliefs are strong, we are dangerously naive, and our vision increasingly myopic. We still see the development and “digitisation” of media a phenonmenon similar to our young children wanting to hook their play stations to the TV,  while we want to watch our afternoon comedy.  Nothing to pay attention to here, the children will eventually get over it.

This is exactly the same attitude I came across in a recent discussion on IPTV, hosted by Alumni of a prestigious business school in France. This discussion took place last week in London and the panel consisted of speakers from two of the key broadcast organisations in the UK, and of some high energy start-ups in the area of internet video. One member of the panel, from a prestigious TV distribution platform in the UK, dismissed Google TV ads as something “just in the US, and not delivering on core fundamentals”. Crap!

Do we believe it “does not deliver on core fundamentals” because we have become the fundamentalists of the TV world ourselves? Google TV Ads is important, not because Google will take over the world one day, but because they are laying the grounds to change the rules of the game for traditional TV. This is how:

– It redefines the way TV is targetted- hence how it is measured, hence how it is traded. Their approach would deliver in the age of digital TV, and the traditional approach does not.

– It challenges the decades long incestual relationship of the research agencies and media owners. Google’s data is more transparent, more real time, and offers more analytics. If there is one thing you can trust Google to do, it is number crunching.

– It helps media owners maximise revenues and advertisers reach, in the age of fragmented on-demand platforms. Traditional models can not even cope with PVR/DVRs.

– Most of the big players in the media and research industry are likely to term Google’s work as something that has a limited scope but would then go and do something similar to Google TV Ads and use their scale to make it sound better. They will.

And if we still do not get it (and I have a feeling we perhaps would but not in the short-term), we deserve to live in a world where most of people still like to be told when they should watch something that they do not want to watch to begin with. We might as well.

We based personalisation technology to deliver an experience unique to each user is not new. Amazon has been doing it for quite some time, and even some basic movie rental sites have tried it. Most of these personalisation software rely on your behavioral pattern to make recommendations.

Come to think of it, why has this persoanlisation not come to the TV sets as yet? Afterall, in the age of on-demand, or even scheduled digital viewership, this is but a painless task… and seemingly simple that too.

Well an Italian company seems to have finally delivered it. Bee TV,  a startup being run by some acclaimed industry professionals, with the ownership of a Ducth BV holding company seems to be making in-roads into this area.

Their technology works at an upstream level. They work with platforms and broadcasters to deliver  the experience and interface as opposed to selling it directly to the consumers. One can see an obvious business model advantage in their approach, as platforms are the lowest hanging fruits- you go with a few, you would reach million of homes automatically.

However, in my opinion, there is such an opportunity for this type of personalisation to be delivered to the consumers, independant of the platforms- via either a media centre platform, or via a PVR platform. Even a device like Apple TV should be able to do it. For all you know, the new Genius function in ITunes might just deliver this experience on Apple TV for audio-visual content. Alhough it can not be fully beneficial untill Apple TV becomes a PVR.

It is at least a step towards a new direction. Also, can you begin to think how the Google TV Ad serving would work in conjunction with something like this…? Beautifully!

You can watch a demo of the Bee TV service at:

http://www.bee.tv/demo.asp

You have probably seen the recent news of NBC agreeing to let Google TV Ads sell some of its inventory through Google TV Ads platform. Seemingly harmless, what really is Google TV Ads and what are the potential implications of such deals? I am assuming that NBC is just a start for Google for such ventures.

To begin with, Google TV Ads is a wonderful application. It is the “TV Optimizer” of the modern day and builds on the Google search advertising schematic. The real basis for this breakthrough for Google is not the NBC deal but in fact their earlier partnership with EchoStar (or Dish Network), and Astound Cables in the US. Their new set top boxes of these two cable/DTH operators have the ability to track viewership second by second. Hence at an aggregate level, you can have the statistics on how many times a commercial was viewed, and whether it was viewed through to the end. Google uses this data to find relevance between certain types of viewers and ads and content, and has created a platform, exactly based on their search model, that makes use of this data to “serve” ads to the viewers.

This is a massive departure from our demographic targetting techniques, into a more “mindset” and relevance led placement of TV ads. Much like the difference between placing a newspaper advert, or placing an ad via Google search. It is going to require an equally big change of mindset within the TV buyers community.

What is so unique about it is that this model of TV advertising breaks away from ratings, and yet is highly measurable. Logically, this system should even work for on-demand content. By virtue of this, it creates an alternate trading currency in the market. The fact that the measurements are highly accurate and relevant, Google is potentially able to trade inventory at higher margins and minimum waste (buys cheap, sells cheapish), or pass on the advantage to the advertisers. What are you media agency giants of the world doing sleeping on your laurels, wake up!?

Once this model picks up popularity, there is no stopping all sorts of advertisers to sign up to such deals, though NBC have optimistically said that this venture would attract “an entirely new group of clients”.

What are the disadvantages of it…? It is just US based at the minute, and that too only on Dish Network/Astound homes. Unless the same set-top box technology is exported to other cable/DTH operators, and markets, it is going to remain a limited venture.

Game is not over….

September 4, 2008

You are not the only one worried about accomodating your Game Console, your satellite receiver, your PVR, your Freeview box (Digital Video Broadcast Receiver, for people outside the UK), and your DVD player on your TV trolley. The good news is that this battle of space is becoming equally important for the big players who are selling you those boxes.

But lets be honest, who do we think is truly best positioned to deliver an all-in-one box? Do we think Sky+ would one day come with a built-in DVD player, or a DVD player would throw in a free Freeview box built in? If you think about it, It is the game consoles that have pretty much every piece of hardware that may be required to deliver an all-in-one experience, and more. The marriage of gaming with the rest of the audio-visual entertainment has been pending, but seems to be shaping up quite fast lately.

Sony just announced a small little addition to their PS3 consoles. Something called PlayTV priced at just £69. This small little gadget instantly turns your PS3 into a freeview receiver, and gives it a PVR capability. This is in addition to their movies and TV programmes download service that they announced sometime back.

How are you going to be reminded to switch between your endless hours spent on Grand Theft Auto, and the news on the US elections? While you record a football match, and get ready to enjoy your new blue-ray release of The Dark Knight? Oh and you also need to remember to download the old episodes of Porridge? How are you going to manage all of this? Easily I say.

By the way, a recent study in the UK reveals that PVRs/DVRs can help improve a relationship! The general percetpion as we all know is that the game consoles can actually spoil relationships. Not if they both come in one box, you reckon?

Ratings…?

July 15, 2008

According to an estimate by e-marketer, about 25% of the TV content would be watched via either on-demand TV, over the internet, digital HD broadcast, or even on mobile devices by 2012. Whilst this figure is for the US, I would imagine it would well represent quite a few other markets that are spending huge moneys on modern broadcast infrastructure (UK’s Freesat for instance) and the markets with fair broadband penetration rates. These rates are catching up quite fast in markets that represents most of the world’s ad spend growth.

Globally, the TV advertising spend is estimated to be about US$ 200 billion. Do we see 25% of it going into other newer form of TV viewering? We hope.

The major hinderance for this change in ad spending would perhaps be the trading currency for TV advertising, and the de facto measurement matrix- ratings. Unless someone comes up with a way of measuring all TV in an integrated manner.

Just last week, ACNieldon, the world’s biggest provider of TV viewership data, held a client survey to determine the need and demand for a TV audience research that would measure “all screens”. I am amazed at the fact that they thought this demand needs researching! Anyway, Nielson also need to prepare for broadcast over the digital spectrum, and of course the rise of the on-demand and interactive TV. It would be interesting to see how they really mould and modernise themselves to deliver this target.

One thing is for sure, the ratings would not exist in the form and manner they do now. Simply because of the basic premise: Ratings measure the “potential delivery” of a message. How many people are likely to have watched a piece of programming at a given time. Whereas in the modern TV schematic, you are not only a bit more sure of the delivery of the message, you also do not watch a piece of programming at a given time. Also, you perhaps watch the same programme via a diverse range of devices.

In this need for “integration” of TV measurement, which way do you think the wind is going to blow? Would the new ways of watching TV be incorporated into “ratings”, or do you think the ratings would give way to more modern way the advertising on internet is measured? Watch-through rates of sorts perhaps?