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.

The TV industry’s most read news this week perhaps has been TiVo’s collaboration with Amazon on product purchase.  T-Commerce, or Watch-Click-Buy phenomenon is not new. Some of the big industry players like TimeWarner have tried it in the US without much success in the past.

In the UK, Sky has been toying with this for a long time with their Interactive Feature- The Red Button. They have been able to pull in some of the businesses to do “press to buy” type of campaigns. Brands like Dominos Pizza have struggled with generating critical mass of response through such campaigns in the UK though.

Imagine a situation where you are watching Jonathan Ross and suppose he is talking to J K Rowling about her new book. On your screen popsup a flash asking you to press a button to order that new book from Amazon right then and there. Or you watch an ad for a DVD release of a film and you have an option to order it right then. Conceptually, it is workable, logistically it is doable, the only question is how popular it would prove to be from a consumer stand-point. Chances of it being popular are quite good. Afterall, there is quite a lot of hype around Interactive Advertising on TV these days. My fear is that content producers might just overdo it in their search for more revenues from different sources. 

This particular partnership also has a bit more chances of success than some in the past because consumers are already quite comfortable using Amazon. TiVo or DVRs’ penetration is increasing by the day. Amazon sell a wide range of products, and hence the points of entry for consumers are aplenty. Also, Amazon’s Unbox (movie and songs download service) has already been on TiVo and has enjoyed reasonable success.

On the other hand, would there be questions on Amazon’s pricing of the products, which we all know is not the best amongst online retailors? Would consumers leave their favourite vendors and purchase products, for convenience, via TiVo?

Branded Content, if put in this perspective, also takes a completely new angle. How annoying or acceptable would it be to see a pop-up every time there is a product shown on screen- during a drama, a movie, or a talk-show? It sort of reminds me of the onslaught of pop-up windows full of advertising on the internet. Like we have pop-up blockers for internet browsers, would there will be pop-up blockers one day for TiVo or other DVRs? We know that anything that gets overly commercialised gets instantly rejected by consumers.

By the way, just in case you are wondering where the title of this post came from, Forrester Research’s Josh Bernoff once described this phenomenon of “watch click and buy” as “Buying Jennifer Aniston’s Sweater”.

Everyone is impressed by the growth of PVRs/DVRs. It is truly overwhelming, and of course the reason is that these devices completely changed the viewing experience for us.

The first big thing about the PVRs was that it liberated programming from the shackles of TV listings, and allowed you to watch what you wanted to watch, whenever you wanted to do it. The second advantage was that it allowed you to skip advertising- just like any other recording medium would have been able to do.

In essence, what PVRs/DVRs actually do is store hours of content on a hard-drive next to your TV so that you can access it anytime- making your viewing experience virtually that of “on-demand” TV. But do remember that it is a virtual on-demand experience. What would happen if the TV really became on-demand? What would you do with your PVRs? Why would you want to spend money buying storage capacity in your home, when your broadcast provider is already doing that for you at a remote location?

If there is ever a case of having some sort of storage or digital play-back device at home, it is that for a device like Apple TV, or a generic media player attached to your TV. What that allowd you to do is “rent and buy” movies and TV series for you to keep- just like your old DVD collection. A mixture of an Apple TV like device, with a PVR might just be a better answer. There are some devices in the market currently that aim at doing that, though without much of an organised interface, or thought behind them.

There are also quite a few services that offer video-on-demand. Virgin’s limited on-demand TV is one example. All the major broadcasters such as BBC, ITV and Channel four have their programming accessible through the internet- though ironically so far you can only play that programming on your computer.

From an advertising point of view, PVRs or on-demand TV presents a very simple challenge. How do you insert commercial breaks back into programming? Afterall, not all content can be branded, and there is a limit to a viewer’s capacity to watch “sponsored” programming, and ad-breaks still are a relatively more favourable choice then seeing a dish-washing liquid being talked about in an episode of Heroes.

There are technologies that are being worked on and experimented with to get the commercial breaks back into digital media files (that can be played back on TV- on-demand). Keep reading this blog for more on those.