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    This is the personal blog of Simon Kendrick and covers my interests in media, technology and popular culture. All opinions expressed are my own and may not be representative of past or present employers
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Mediatel Media Playground 2011

My previous blog post covered my notes on Broadcast in a Multi-Platform World, which I felt was the best session of the day. Below are my notes from the other 3 sessions (I didn’t take any notes during the bonus Olympics session)

The data debate

Chaired by Torin Douglas, Media Correspondent for the BBC

Andrew Bradford, VP, Client Consulting, Media at Nielsen
Sam Mikkelsen, Business Development Manager at Adalyser

David Brennan, Research & Strategy Director at Thinkbox
Kurt Edwards, Digital Commercial Director at Future
Nick Suckley, Managing Director at Agenda21
Bjarne Thelin, Chief Executive at BARB

Some of the issues touched upon in this debate were interesting but I felt they were dealt with too superficially (but as a researcher, I guess it is inevitably I’d say that).

David Brennan thinks we need to take more control over data and how we apply it. There is a dumb acceptance that anything created by a machine must be true and we’ve lost the ability to interrogate the data

Nick Suckley thinks the main issue is the huge productivity problem with manual manipulation of data from different sources (Google has been joined by Facebook, Twitter and the mobile platforms), but this also represents a huge opportunity. He thinks the fight is not about who owns the data, but who puts it together

Torin Douglas posited whether our history of currencies meant that we weren’t so concerned with data accuracy, since everyone had access to the same information. Bjarne Thelin unsurprisingly disagreed with this, pointing out the large investment in BARB shows the need for a credible source.

David Brennan said his 3 Es of data are exposure (buying), engagement (planning) and effectiveness (accountability)

Nick Suckley thinks people would be willing to give up information for clear benefits but most don’t realise what already is being collected on them

Kurt Edwards thinks social media is a game-changer from a planning point of view as it sends the power back to the client. There is real-time visibility, but the challenge is to not react to a few negative comments

David Brennan concurred and worried about the possibility of social media data conclusions not being supported by other channels. You need to go out of your way to augment social media data with other sources to get the fuller picture

Bjarne Thelin gave the example of BBC’s +7 viewing figures to show that not all companies are focusing purely on real-time. He also underlines the fact that inputs determine outputs and so you need to know what goes in

David Brennan concluded by saying that in the old days you knew what you were getting. Now it is overblown, with journalists confused as to what is newsworthy or significant

Social media and gaming

Chaired by Andrew Walmsley, ex i-Level

Adele Gritten, Head of Media Consulting at YouGov
Mark Lenel, Director and senior analyst at Gamesvison

Henry Arkell, Business Development Manager at Techlightenment
Pilar Barrio, Head of Social at MPG
Toby Beresford, Chair, DMA Social Media Council at DMA
Sam Stokes, Social Media Director at Punktilio

The two speakers gave a lot of statistics on gaming and social gaming, whereas the panel focused upon social media. This was a shame, as the panel could have used more variety. All panel members were extolling the benefits of social media, and so there was little to no debate.

There was discussion about the difficulty in determining the value of a fan, the privacy implications, Facebook’s domination across the web and the different ways in which social media can assist an organisation in marketing and other business functions.

Mobile advertising

Chaired by Simon Andrews, Founder of addictive!

Ross Williams, Associate Director at Ipsos MediaCT

Gary Cole, Commercial Director at O2
Tamsin Hussey, Group Account Director at Joule
Shaun Jordan, Sales Director at Blyk
Will King, Head of Product Development at Unanimis
Will Smyth, Head of Digital at OMD

Ross Williams gave an interesting case study on Ipsos’ mobi app, which tracked viewer opinion during the Oscars.

Simon Andrews’ approach to chairing the debate was in marked contrast to the previous sessions. He was less a bystander and more a provocateur – he clearly stated his opinions and asked the panel to follow-up. He was less tolerant of bland sales-speak than the previous chairs, but was also more biased in approaching the panel with the majority of panel time filled with Simon speaking to Will Smyth.

Will King things m-commerce will boost mobile like e-commerce did with digital. Near field communication will move mobile into the real world.

Gary Cole pointed out that mobile advertising is only a quarter of a percent of ad spend but that clients should think less about display advertising and of mobile as a distinct channel. Instead, mobile can amplify other platforms in a variety of ways.

Tamsin Hussey said that as there isn’t much money in mobile, there is no finance to develop a system for measuring clicks and effectiveness of all channels. Currently, it has to be done manually.

Will Smyth said the app store is the first meaningful internet experience on the mobile. The mobile is still young and there is a fundamental lack of expertise at the middle management level across the industry. Social is currently getting all the attention (“Chairman’s wife syndrome”) but mobile has plenty to offer.



Broadcast in a multi-platform world

Last week I attended the Mediatel Media Playground 2011 – the first session of which was Broadcast in a multi-platform world. Below are my notes.

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

Consumer understanding

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”

Competing platforms

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.

Why original video content doesn’t perform as well as TV show webisodes

uglybettyNewteevee have reported that ABC are finding that their original online video content does not perform nearly as well as webisodes of shows such as Ugly Betty.

This isn’t a fair comparison. Ugly Betty is one of the biggest shows on ABC; how does traffic for smaller programmes compare to original web content?

A clear distinction should also be drawn between original content and additional content. Additional content has a clear advantage in having a ready-made audience.

The article concentrates on short-form content. It is worth pointing out that long-form catch-up content behaves differently – Ugly Betty’s catch-up performance may not be as strong. This makes sense as not all shows necessarily have repeat value – if lots of people are viewing it on TV then there will be fewer wanting to watch it online.

Though, Ugly Betty has two characteristics that make it more likely to be viewed in catch-up. The first is demography – younger people are likely to be more active and more in need of a catch-up service. Hence shows targeted at 16-34s will find they have a greater percentage of their total audience viewing after the event. The second is genre. Comedies aren’t as critical to be viewed live as sport or reality content (and personally, I prefer to “series-stack”).

But, ultimately, live viewing has the lure of being able to watch new content immediately, and being able to participate in watercooler chat the other day. This is why we find there is a skew in top shows online compared to top shows on TV – check out these stats for single episodes views from the BBC and ITV. They are quite different to top TV episodes.

Short-form content, on the other hand, is additional content. Viewers of this are therefore going to be very closely tied with programme viewers. Passionate advocates of a programme are going to be those that watch live and those that consume the additional content. Using the Coronation Street example (as I repeatedly do), the viewing figures for alternative versions of a character’s death were huge.

I’ve already posted on how TV and online video are complementary rather than contradictory. But it is worth repeating that web traffic to TV channel websites (at least in the UK) is closely correlated to viewing audiences. Big event shows bring in mass audiences viewing live. In pure scale, there are going to be more advocates who want to consume additional content. But these types of show also have very high levels of engagement. If people are talking about a show, they will want additional content to fuel their chat.

This isn’t meant to do original broadband content a disservice. I am a big fan of made for broadband shows – as this list of twelve web series to check out should indicate. They have many benefits, particularly to brands that can explore ways to interact with consumers in a creative and entertaining manner. This article from Broadcast magazine explores this concept, and includes some of the great research done by the people at Futurescape.

Merely, it is simply to highlight the unfair comparison. People visit the websites of TV channels with specific content in mind – they rarely go to browse. TV programmes have much greater visibility and consumption than web-only shows, and it is only natural that they contribute the majority of traffic


Polls are taxing my patience

Polls are everywhere at the moment.

They’ve been around for a long time, but for me they’ve jumped the shark/nuked the fridge. Use has been superseded by overuse.

The US elections are an obvious, recent cause. I am amazed by the amount of polls taking place. Yesterday’s FiveThirtyEight poll update shows that there were 11 national polls and 25 state polls. For that one day alone.

All the polls will be using different samples, methodologies and weighting factors, and will be producing different results. How useful can all these be? Nate Silver doesn’t think much of them, hence his predictive model.

On the one hand polls can be incredibly misleading. Look at the 1992 British election, where people were ashamed to admit they voted Tory. Labour were well ahead in the polls, yet the Conservatives won. And there are still concerns that the Bradley effect could hand the current election to McCain despite Obama’s current lead.

And on the other hand they can also be influencing. A candidate may move ahead in a poll. This is reported as a surge in popularity. People gravitate towards the likely winner (whether it’s Rupert Murdoch or Mondeo Man) and so a temporary surge can be converted into a substantial lead. All without the candidate doing anything of substance.

However, I believe that while these polls are overused, they do at least serve a purpose. I’m less convinced by the glut of polling options appearing online at the moment.

WordPress, for instance, has incorporated Polldaddy into the service. So, I could choose to serve a poll to my readers if I wished to.

However, I do not.

I’m 100% in favour of developing systems and introducing new options, but I see little use in polls. They are a vague nod to interactivity, but they will produce little utility.

I can see how they can of use to some blogs with a large readership who spend a lot of time on the site constructing thoughtful arguments.

But for the majority of blogs (mine included), people skim and pass through. If they see a box, they might tick it. But how would that be useful to me? I would be grateful to my readers for participating, but I wouldn’t trust any results that come out of it.

Polls give an unwarranted aura of science or respectability. Ticking a box is no better than making a comment. In fact, it is worse, since it requires less effort to think. Simply choose a pre-conceived option and on you go.

Take the BBC’s polls for instance. The BBC are in a constant battle to maintain relevance (for the record, I love the BBC), and interactivity is a way in which they try to do so. But as a result, you end up with a surfeit of pointless noise.

I’m thinking less about the 33,000 comments and counting regarding “Sachsgate” (spEak You’re bRanes must think it has gone to heaven) and more about the fluffy questions of the day or the completely illogical player-rater on football games (I can go and rate Ashley Cole 1/10 on every match even though I won’t be following it), What benefit is being accrued here – either to the user or to the BBC?

So I am making a one person stand against polls. I won’t be using them, and I won’t be participating in them. May they rest in pieces.


Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cfox74/

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Notes from the Internet World exhibition

Although the Internet World exhibition is largely a trade fair for online service providers, I’d noticed that several of the keynote speeches on Thursday morning were related to online video/TV. And so I wandered along to Earls Court, and learned several things in the process.

Peter Cowley (Endemol) – The rise of original digital video content

Peter began by recounting some statistics on the US online video market – such as there being 10.1bn online video views in February 2008 – a 160% year on year increase.

He then went onto talk about Endemol’s content strategy. They have moved into five areas

  • Providing full-length programmes for catch-up (e.g. through the iPlayer)
  • Licencing content from their archives (e.g. for Joost)
  • Distributing clips of content (e.g. on Youtube)
  • Repackaging clips from the archive
  • Creating original video

Three case studies were shown to illustrate the fifth area

  • The Cell – a show using green screen technology built especially for O2. A website and social networks were used to help promote the show. They aim to pay back O2’s investment by selling it both internationally and across platform. To do the latter, they had to ensure the production values were high enough to make the transfer from mobile to website to DVD.
  • Beyond the Rave – funded by Hammer House of Horror (they of the classic films) and initially shown on Myspace TV through 20 x 4 minute shows. A DVD of the full show will be released, coming in at around 90 minutes once additional footage is incorporated. In order to make it financially viable, the production cost came it at under $1m.
  • Gap Year – a global reality show on Bebo where six “contestants” travel for six months around the world. It aims to tap into the social side of Bebo by incorporating blogs, commenting, community, feedback and clips. It is fully funded through product integration, and so no pre-rolls are necessary.

Michael Acton Smith (Mind Candy) – The future of social games

Michael is a bit of a serial entrepreneur, having already set up Firebox and Perplex City. Having learnt some valuable lessons from the latter – “ultimately too deep and complex for the mainstream” – he has returned with a new venture – Moshi Monsters.

He is aiming to capitalise on the successes of both social gaming (which Nintendo has shown works) and virtual pets – which has a strong lineage from the pet rock to NeoPets via Tamagotchi.

Moshi Monsters is designed to be as simple as possible. It is aimed at 7-11 year olds, and is rendered in flash for interactivity. A lot of work has been put into the social element – there are newsfeeds, pinboards, friendstreams and widgets for Facebook et al. There is also an educational element – so participants gain currency for completing puzzles.

He mentioned Amy Jo Kim’s keys for success – collecting, points, feedback and customisation – and has incorporated each of these. The business model is subscription based but he is also looking to sell physical products, presumably to capitalise on the merchandising potential.

My favourite quote of his was on the advantages of playing against friends – “computers can’t cry”. How true.

Kym Niblock (BBC Worldwide) – Commercialising content propositions

Kym opened with a video (partially soundtracked to Patrick Wolf) punctuated with stats on the BBC. Essentially, as we all know, they are very, very big in many, many markets. Specifically related to the website, they have 1.4bn page impressions a month from 46m unique users – 29m of which aren’t in the UK. Since these 29m were essentially getting the content for free, the BBC felt it was necessary to monetize it.

But by doing so, they had to be sure that they wouldn’t unfairly punish UK users, whose licence fee money remains their sole contribution (outside of purchasing BBC products). Kym mentioned that their IP address identification software has been extremely successful and scores above the 99.6% accuracy rating that the BBC insisted upon.

Even though advertising content would be allowed, it does not appear throughout the website as sensitive stories will still be ad-free. The BBC are also very careful not to juxtapose the content with inappropriate ads (take note Facebook), with all ads checked for suitability. As well as banners, skyscrapers, leaderboards and MPUs, the videos also include pre-rolls.

Regarding the advertising, the BBC follow four key principles and safeguards:

  • Ads should engage and not interrupt
  • Ads shouldn’t take control away from the user
  • Ads shouldn’t trivialise the output
  • Ads should not give the impression that a story is there only because of the ad opportunity.

There was an interesting discussion about why an advertising model was chosen. Initially, a subscription model was favoured – replicating the licence fee, essentially. But while people were theoretically in favour of this, research found that few would be willing to pay. And since pretty much all websites now carry advertising, there would be no outcry if BBC.com suddenly carried ads. According to BBC research, 2/3 of people prefer ads to a subscription model, and 7 in 10 accept ads in return for an enhanced service.

Ravi Damani (TVguide.co.uk) – Listen to Your Users, and The Future of TV

The final keynote I saw was a double header. The first part – Listen to Your Users – was a case study on how TVguide.co.uk has succeeded with help from its users. According to Ravi, there are four main ways to listen to your users

  • Feedback form on the site (along with a FAQ to improve overall quality of feedback)
  • Actively encourage feedback
  • Surveys
  • Personal profiles

Ravi said that TVguide.co.uk gets 5-6 high-quality feedback submissions per day. The feedback is benchmarked and weighted for both feasibility and to ensure that “expert user” feedback stands out. Requests are recorded and put into a development timeline before being implemented.

He also mentioned that they are looking at multiple revenue streams for the site. Interestingly, he said that front-page takeovers were accepted by users since the programme information provided them value. Another option is partnerships with providers such as 4OD, where TVguide.co.uk would gain revenue from referrals.

The second part of the presentation looked at the future of TV, and the facets of online video. Ravi split his talk into the following sections

  • Device – we are moving towards a unified device that can synchronise content across multiple platforms. Even at the moment, a laptop can become a second screen for information while you are watching TV
  • Content creation – shows can now be released rather than scheduled, with different formats and prices, depending on ad type and timing
  • Content delivery – iTunes has revolutionised the music market, and online can add to the number of viewers. When Gossip Girl was taken off the web, it only added 1% to the TV audience
  • Aggregators – TVMotion became one of the most successful (if illegal) sites purely by linking to other content
  • Social side – Microsoft have patented an IM for set-top boxes, and TV is of course a very social medium
  • Ratings and reviews – Netflix has had great success with this, and is even running a competition to see if people can improve their recommendations system. It can be a mix of editorial and user-generated, to bring in that community element
  • Revenues – somewhere between advertising and subscription. Hulu lets people choose the ad format. DRM can actually bring more cost than benefit – as in theory the DRM infrastructure needs to be provided for the lifetime of the product

Ravi then looked at the current players, and how they rated on each of these elements. Hulu and Bebo meet all of the criteria bar a unified device, while Sky doesn’t have the ratings or social element. He speculates that Kangaroo may be the first service to offer all of these.

I didn’t hang about after these keynotes, and so can’t really critique the exhibition as a whole. What I can say is that I was extremely impressed with the scale of it – even on the third day the venue was extremely crowded. As the organisers were awarded best business exhibition at the 2007 Event Awards, they must be doing something right.


James Murdoch is wrong about the iPlayer

bbc iplayer
Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/dantaylor/

At the Marketing Society annual lecture, James Murdoch accused the BBC iPlayer of squashing competition.

I completely disagree with this. The iPlayer is dominant, but it is taking a large slice of an inflated pie. Without the iPlayer, the market would be a lot smaller. No-one was complaining of the other video services using 3-5% of the UK’s Internet traffic beforehand.

The BBC is able to devote greater resources to promoting the iPlayer (£131m over 5 years) than its commercial rivals. Since online video is a game-changing technology, I believe that the BBC is justified in doing this. They have used their money to:

  • Fail. All the coverage of the flash iPlayer overlooks the fact that the p2p service floundered throughout 2007
  • Promote. Barely a trail or continuity goes by without the iPlayer being mentioned – commercial broadcasters have a multitude of commitments battling for space and could not give their online video the same level of coverage
  • Populate. As well as in-house productions, the BBC has been paying for ad-hoc deals to bring in third party content (such as Damages)
  • Reassure. Despite everything that has gone one in the past few years (from Hutton to RDF to Socks), people will still look to the BBC rather than a commercial rival

As for James Murdoch’s assertion that it is crowding out competition, I have had a look at Comscore data and that tells a different picture.

Admittedly, the iPlayer only appeared for the first time in March data, and so currently there is only one month of data to compare to. But over the year so far

  • ITV.com total visits and unique users have held constant
  • 4OD total visits and unique users have risen
  • Sky Anytime unique users has fallen but total visits have risen
  • In March, the iPlayer had the most total visits, though fewer unique users than ITV.com (which is admittedly, the whole website and not just the catch-up area)

Now Comscore stats will never be completely accurate, but it paints an interesting picture and one that is at odds with James Murdoch.

And of course, Project Kangaroo will launch later this year. That will completely alter the shape of the competition. In theory, the iPlayer could back down into a secondary role and allow Kangaroo to dominate the market. But how Kangaroo will sit alongside the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 is unclear, and the lure of the ad-free iPlayer may be too great. Personally, I see Kangaroo – attempting to be the iTunes of online video – becoming the first port of call but Interesting times are certainly ahead.


Why even simple behavioural targeting can work

Seth Godin posted a typically insightul blog on targeting with respect to Firefox users. His point is that they represent a quarter of his site’s visitors, but half of its contributors and so these “power users” should be treated as priority.

This makes sense. Not everyone is the BBC, whose iPlayer underwent a lengthy gestation where it was windows internet explorer-only due to the BBC’s duty to be mass (though they didn’t rush to be inclusive).

Behavioural targeting can and should be utilised – particularly in the initial stages of a project. It could be rewarding heavy customers/users with priority/first access to a new service, using connectors to spread ideas, or – to use Tom’s example – recruiting a panel of superrespondents.

Effective targeting provides shortcuts. And shortcuts aren’t necessarily sub-optimal. In competitive markets, time and money are precious resources.

Information gathering doesn’t need to be at phorm levels. In Seth’s example, just knowing what browser a visitor is using is enough. Starting small in one community, gaining momentum and then spreading to the mass works.


Online video: Today and tomorrow

Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/blake/

MediaGuardian reports that the BBC iPlayer is seeing significant growth while ITV.com has been left “trailing”. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for ITV, nor the other commercial broadcasters. In this situation, a smaller piece of a bigger pie is better than a large piece of a small pie. With new and emerging technology, the major battle is for it to gain traction and acceptance among the mainstream. Fortunately for ITV et al, not only does the BBC have the muscle (and the inclination) to do this, but its unique status means that there will only be limited opportunity for advertising revenues. Once the technology embeds, this leaves it the smaller, commercial rivals to battle it out with the Joosts, babelgums and so on for the cash.

Furthermore, there is a rather large Kangaroo looming on the horizon, and it has yet to be finalised how this is to fit in with these different offerings. At the launch it was announced:

BBC iPlayer content will be listed within the new service, while Channel 4’s website will host a catch-up service which will see 4oD “evolve into the new [Kangaroo] service”.

Channel 4 are suitably vague, while there is no mention of how ITV.com, Five Download (notably absent from the launch) and any other eager player will fit in alongside this service.

Interesting, a quote from the article read:

“Right now, however, the big winner is YouTube, which accounts for over a third of online video viewing, according to comScore,” “This suggests that short-form entertainment may be more appealing to internet audiences.”

Can the iPlayer and the Kangaroo buck this trend, or will it be the clips that drive online video usage. For me, that will be decided by future broadband speeds. My online viewing is rarely planned, and so I prefer to stream low quality clips than plan a high-quality download. If only I lived in Japan.