Almost one year ago this article was released by the The Economist and boy have things moved quickly. Second Screen, handheld devices, I this and that I that. Droid Tablets, and never have there been more choices of devices, Smart TV‘s or Plans from AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Turner to deliver you for a mere $30 at the most basic to 130.00 per month for the Triple Play Bundle with some form of VOIP. We have HULU, NetFlix, and Google TV, Facebook TV, Apple TV all kind of serving up the same models whether subscription based or what is a hated Pre-roll to get to the content you want from your entertainment choices. How far along have we come in the race to organise television? We have begun to hear about Transmedia Storytelling now the question of monetization of streaming video remains the next frontier for Independent Producers and a audience that is quite frankly tired of subsidizing reruns and commercials. Enter Transmedia Brandcasting which will allow Brands to use product placement interactivity to usher in the Shopportunity of the next major trending topic for the entire Entertainment Revenue Structure. Adding Groupon Coupon type companies now featured by Google Offers and Facebook Deals provide a new opportunity for business to use streaming video in brand new ways. Take a look at this article from The Economist posted July 15, 2010. What a difference a year makes.
The humble channel-zapper is evolving in ways that will shape television’s future
Jul 15th 2010 | from the print edition
THEY probably do not realise it, but 115m households are customers of Rovi Corporation. The firm designs the grid of upcoming programmes that people see when they flop in front of the television and press a button on the remote control marked “TV guide”. These guides get a lot of use: the typical American viewer spends ten minutes a day flicking through them, spread over an average of eight sessions. So stealthily have they penetrated the living room that viewers tend to take them for granted. But even the laziest couch potato may soon notice some changes to his television set.
Not so long ago finding a TV programme was easy. You opened a newspaper, looked at what the three or four broadcasters were showing that evening, and made sure you got home in time. The rise of multichannel television has complicated matters. BSkyB, a British satellite broadcaster, offers 505 channels, not including radio or pay-per-view films. Pay-TV outfits are pushing on-demand films and television shows, either bundled with subscriptions or à la carte. And people are recording more TV. Digital video recorders, which are used much more heavily than tape-based ones, have spread to 37% of American homes, according to Nielsen, a research firm. Programme guides have been pressed into service to try to make sense of all this content.
They are struggling under the load. Many programme guides are becoming hard to navigate as menus and sub-menus spring up. Searching for shows often means ploughing through ever-growing alphabetical lists or clicking around a grid of letters. All of which takes time and detracts from what is supposed to be a lazy experience. “After eight hours at work, you want to watch your favourite programme, not play with your set-top box,” says Elad Manishviz of NDS, a programme-guide maker. And television is about to become a lot more complicated.
As televisions connect to the internet, either directly or through set-top boxes, Blu-ray players and games consoles, the quantity of content will explode. Hulu, a slick video-streaming website, is already available to Americans (for a fee) through the newest Samsung televisions. It will gradually colonise more devices. Later this year BSkyB will introduce its Anytime+ service, which will use broadband to deliver thousands of hours of on-demand programmes. Early next year a consortium of the BBC and other broadcasters hopes to begin selling set-top boxes that will unlock their online programme stores.
The internet does not just hugely increase the amount of content available to TV viewers. It also allows it to be organised in a different way. Samsung’s televisions contain iPhone-style apps that allow users to go straight to subscription film-streaming services like Blockbuster and Netflix. These outfits use superior recommendation engines to predict what people might want to watch. The world’s leading search engine has a more radical plan. Google TV, which will be released as a set-top box and built into American televisions later this year, will introduce the familiar search bar. Searches will dredge up all video content, whether on television or on the web. The firm hopes it will bring more eyeballs to YouTube, its video site.
The appearance of navigational tools that the pay-TV distributors do not control presents a considerable threat. If viewers turn from conventional television to Hulu or YouTube money will be lost, because such sites run many fewer ads. If people turn from pay-per-view or video-on-demand rentals to video streaming, Hollywood’s profit margins will shrink. And if viewers turn away from professional content altogether it will be a catastrophe for media firms. The campaign to prevent this from happening starts with building a better programme guide.
Besides improving the look of their on-screen programme guides, pay-TV firms are now building guides for devices like the iPhone and the iPad. These can be used to programme digital video recorders. Many are making it easier to search for content. Cox Communications’ new Trio guide, developed with NDS, allows cable subscribers to search for a show on TV, video-on-demand and in a digital video recorder, all at the same time.
More ambitious plans are being drawn up. Rovi is weaving social networks like Facebook into television guides, so people can recommend shows to each other. BSkyB hopes to let people share the contents of their digital video recorders. Like Samsung and Google, pay-TV distributors reckon they can bring the best of the internet to the television set. The difference is that they think television will be the dominant partner.
Whereas technology firms tend to view television sets as large computer monitors, TV folk regard them as distinct in two important ways. First, they think, viewers do not want too many options. A search that turns up thousands of programmes is pointless, says Fred Amoroso, Rovi’s CEO: people want small lists of relevant choices. The incumbents also reckon live television will remain popular. Rovi considered doing away with the conventional programme grid altogether for its latest guide. The message from focus groups was clear: do not get rid of the grid.
The other big difference is that pay-TV operators view television as a social experience. “I might be the one with a remote control in my hand, but there are other people in the room,” says Brian Lenz of BSkyB. Unlike Samsung’s beautiful apps, their guides are deliberately unobtrusive. Many incorporate windows where the programme plays on, so the remote-control hog does not prevent others from watching. They believe searches must be quick. And forget using the living-room television for complicated stuff like sending e-mails or shopping. That is what laptops and iPhones are for.
The TV people may turn out to be wrong. The internet has disrupted many businesses before television. But two things are almost certainly in TV’s future. First, the supply of things to watch will increase, and with it the importance of electronic programme guides. And, second, people are going to spend even more time in front of the box.