Notes for the other sessions will follow later in the week. However, I found this seminar the most enjoyable and thought-provoking due to the sector being highly competitive with players who would traditionally be in separate markets, and the willingness of the speakers to engage in debate on this.
According to the website, the themes of the debate were:
Platforms, content owners, broadcasters, manufacturers and the confused consumer too – the new broadcast world.
- How are consumer viewing and listening habits changing?
- What is Connected TV? How will it best be sold to the consumer?
- How will broadcasters and programme makers stand out in a world of TV clutter?
- How should VOD be sold to agencies and advertisers?
- The role of the EPG
- Who needs who most? Are these uneasy alliances going to come crashing down?
- Is YouView just too late now or the catalyst to Connected TV taking off?
The session was chaired by Torin Douglas, Media Correspondent for the BBC and the panel consisted of:
- Dara Nasr, Head – YouTube & Display at Google
- Oli Newton, Head of Emerging Platforms at Starcom Mediavest
- Dan Saunders, Head of Content Services at Samsung
- Jeff Siegel, Head of Advertising at Rovi
- Nigel Walley, CEO of Decipher
My notes are chronological, so will broadly follow the themes above. All “quotes” were hastily scribbled down, and so are subject to error and misinterpretation.
Nigel Walley opened by saying that in many ways new media isn’t that different to old. “Broadcast is the original recommendation engine” albeit editorially driven rather than through algorithms.
He also said that we are now in a “post VOD world” where new media is a support to broadcast and not an alternative. This is actually a boon to live TV as those time-shifting need to actively avoid mobile and laptop to keep away from spoilers.
Oli Newton said that consumers don’t realise what technology they already have and what it can do – he used games consoles as an example of this. He sees the children being the main educators in spreading these forms of behaviour.
Dan Saunders talked about the rise of connected TVs (Smart TVs, in Samsung parlance). Samsung sell 1 in 4 TVs in the UK, and 75% of these will be connected. He says that smart TV isn’t a separate category but a price point in the overall line-up between HD and 3D.
Jeff Siegel notes that worldwide 50% of connectable sets are now connected (though Mat Watson of ITV disputed this for the UK, saying it is much lower)
Dara Nasr believes that digital and broadcast empower one another and the online/offline divide has disappeared
Nigel Walley believes it is a confusing time for consumers as there are different technologies, different players and different acronyms (DTRs/PVRs/DVRs).
For instance, an average household could have an IPTV for the Olympics, Virgin for their TV and broadband, a PS3 for the kids and a DVD player for Mum. All of these can play iPlayer but the BBC has done no strategic development to say which one is better. Nigel thinks Virgin should be the priority as it the best platform to correlate VOD viewing to the broadcast audience.
Unsurprisingly, Dan Saunders disagreed. He thinks a TV tuner with an internet connection allows viewers to augment broadcast to something meaningful – thus Samsung comes to the fore in Freeview homes.
Dara Nasr said that Youtube follow the user. To be a TV company they need to be on TV, though at the moment it is mobile that is growing their audience.
Nigel Walley questioned his strategy as on the same device there can be multiple versions of Youtube. Dara countered by saying this was because their API is open to external developers. They “want to be accessible everywhere, and see what wins”.
Oli Newton said it was not about names but what gives the best viewing experience. “It is being of the web, not on the web”.
Jeff Siegel agreed in that we should focus on features and not on definitions. On TV, the quality of the video is the main thing – scores and additional information can be mobile if necessary.
Nigel Walley feels the quality of the interface has been the main problem in the past but this is improving. In future, he sees Sky and Virgin could be the dominant app on a TV rather than a separate device, “but there is a technology race to go through first”. This might change how they are used – for instance Youtube is used differently on a TV to how it is on a PC
Nigel noted that another problem to date has been a lack of promotion of connected TVs. For instance, stores don’t have internet connections to enable them to demo it.
Oli Newton said that consumer understanding is the most important thing – they need to be able to ask the right questions in store. Apple’s “ad-ucation” has been good at this – even non-users know how to work an iPhone.
Nigel Walley sees the film industry as being most under threat as connected TVs can deliver a better experience. It will be hard to break through the system of broadcast promotions, trailers and TV guide features that build up a linear broadcast schedule.
Dan Saunders argued that connected TVs can only have a positive impact for companies like ITV – people are buying TVs to watch TV after all.
Nigel Walley then accused TV companies of not understanding the difference between customers and consumers. Sky and Virgin have customers with transactional records while BBC and ITV are trusted brands to consumers – thus they should treat BSkyB as a business partner rather than a competitor.
Role of EPG
Nigel Walley argued that platforms aren’t doing enough to promote channels. The EPG is dull and boring and wastes all the promotion that goes into a channel launch
Dan Saunders questioned the role of the EPG. It isn’t being used effectively for advertising and there is currently too much on the front page
Jeff Siegel feels it has to be consumer friendly before you can even consider advertising
Oli Newton feels that if you have a smart TV, you don’t care about the channels but the content – that’s where the power of the EPG is. The EPG is the best place to advertise “but has been woefully let down”
Nigel Walley concluded that “the EPG is still software, it is not yet a media”
Oli Newton noted that there “content sinkholes” e.g. the Channel 4 programmes available on Youtube are different to those on 4oD and again different to those on TV VOD services.
Oli also feels that Youview “is a bit pointless” – other serices, that already had a head start on the interface and simplicity, are now occupying this space.
Nigel Walley said that the original Youview scope was great, but that was in 2007. Stores are already discounting things that are better than Youview.
Nigel finished by saying that with devices and manufacturers battling it out, broadcasters are now further down the value chain. However, they have the valuable content that lets them punch through.
Filed under: events, online video, Television Tagged: | bbc, broadcast, connected tvs, convergence, dan saunders, dara nasr, decipher, google, jeff siegel, multiplatform, nigel walley, oli newton, rovi, samsung, smart tv, starcom mediavest, torin douglas, video