TV and the Web – again.

19Apr09

A few months ago I wrote a piece about internet content making its way to the TV screen. Not in a Windows Media Center kind of way, but a way that is done from the point of view of the  television industry. It’s now time for the other big event of the braodcasting calendar, NAB in Las Vegas, which unfortunately, I’ll not be attending. There was however, a chance to see some of the things that will be on display there at the IPTV World Forum in London last month. Once again, for a show that is about using internet technology, there was disappointingly little about internet content to see. But here’s a run down of what some of the TV tech companies are doing (or pretending to do) with social media.

Accedo: This is more of an update from what they showed me at IBC, essentially, they’ve taken on the ‘app’ model for Facebook and Twitter so that you can view a cutdown version of these applications as a sidebar during your normal TV watching. In the same way that online applications such as thwirl and digsby recognise that some things need to be kept in the background while you’re focusing on your main task, Accedo will sit completely unassumingly until you want to share what you’re doing with your network. It also integrates with your EPG, so that just using the coloured remote buttons, you can update what you’re watching. Neat, look:

accedo

SeaChange: as a previous client of mine, I was curious to know what this middleware provider was up to in the world of web content.  They’re pimping Affinity, a social networking engine for video-on-demand, essentially a tool that allows you to make and take recommendations for stuff in a VOD library, the idea being that people will discover pay-per-view content that they might not normally find (= extra revenue for operator). The problem I have with this is that it seems that the recommendations are done via collaborative filtering (i.e. you share what you like with your friends and vice versa), which means that the solution is only good when your friends like the same stuff as you AND they happen to have an Affinity enabled TV service. If it was linked to a social network’s API, there would be a lot more value from this and it wouldn’t necessitate the latter point.

Ericcson: Yes they do TV, although apparently they don’t do web design so well. They were showing last.fm on TV – not the actual videos, but essentially, it’s an ‘app’ built for playing music through your TV when you get very bored of adverts for ringtones on VH1. I’m not entirely sure where it sits in the network because they don’t seem to be talking about it in any of their literature or website, which is a shame. I liked the demo though, it looks pretty slick and my TV has better sound quality than my PC, so I’m all for taking this particular service to the living room in another way (I currently use the last.fm app on my iPod quite frequently for that type of thing. Pic below:

ericcson

CompleteTV: Now I have to say I’m more than a little disappointed with these guys. Despite having a fairly nice booth at IPTVWF, and splashing the YouTube Logo across it a couple of times, looking at their site, I fail to see how that was any more than lip service to online media making its way to the TV in any genuine form. Fear of content producers… perhaps. Now, that might sound harsh, but here’s the thing… CompleteTV makes boxes – not a great start… boxes for the consumer (even worse, since most of this stuff will migrate to the network in 3-4 years), which, with the whole wealth of social media goodness out there can do all this: “browse the internet and act as an email/instant messaging client”. Wow. I’m hugely underwhelmed, mind you, they’re way above Ericsson on the web design front.

Finally I wanted to quote a great article from the March/April issue of Future Media, in which Jonathan Webdale has interviewed Anthony Rose, one of the big cheeses behind the iPlayer, who said that “2007 was the year the BBC chose what you watched, 2008 was the year viewers chose what they watched and 2009 would be the year your friends choose what you watch.” As long as it’s not my Mistresses-watching colleagues choosing, I’m keen to see how it goes. It’s a great article (print only so far) which talks a lot more about TV going into social media (rather than what I’ve written here) so go read it now.

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