IBC: It's not all about content
Editors' note: This is a post based on an article in this week's edition of Ariel, the BBC's in-house weekly magazine, by Audio & Music Interactive's Head Of Distribution Technology John Ousby. It includes John's images from the International Broadcasting Convention, as blogged at pressred.org.
Google and YouTube are parasites. It's all about content; the rest is just railway lines.
This was the message given by ITV boss Michael Grade in his recorded interview included in the session. A few people in the audience started clapping until they realised they were outnumbered by the growing army of raised eyebrows.
Were we in a conference from the late '90s? Or did this have anything to do with the fact that ITV is due to be relegated from the FTSE 100 later this month?
The idea that content can be easily separated from technology and distribution is plain wrong. One has been informing the other since the start of broadcasting, through the production technology available at the time or the way audiences find, share, discuss and consume it.
The biggest mistakes I have seen in the broadcast world are when interactivity is slapped on once the paint is dry in the production process or when a technology application is created without consideration of the audience it is intended for.
You can't spend much time at IBC without hearing about convergence and the ever-redrawn battle lines between content owners, broadcasters, internet service providers and telcos.
One of the debates at this year's event was around mobile TV [mp3], which on the broadcast side hasn't had the most prestigious start after several years of hype, trials and struggling commercial services.
Mobile operators have struggled with small volumes of low quality video clips in walled gardens that are expensive to consume and unreliable in reception. With mobile services, context is everything - not just the web (or telly) bundled across to a smaller screen, but content which takes account of where and how it is consumed, and by whom.
We are in a transitionary phase where we are just starting to see the possibilities for mobile video once it's made easy to consume and the pricing structure is relatively understood, as with the iPhone.
Let's just start to think about mobile video and audio, of which TV is a subset rather than a starting point - both broadcast- and internet-delivered video have a part to play in the future of mobile TV.
p2p-next looks like anything else on display at IBC until you understand what it's doing. Live p2p video streaming based on the tribler infrastructure - a potential solution to iPlayer success... Great project involving BBC's George Wright, Pioneer and the EBU among others. Of course, not just video can use this. Nice work.
Walking the halls at IBC proffered the usual mix of landmark moments, promising new technology and the next biggest, brightest display screens, some of which can be seen in this IBC set on Flickr.
It made me proud to see that the BBC were involved in a lot of the best of show - DVB-T2 (next generation digital terrestrial TV delivery), Super High Vision (HD on steroids) and p2p-next (live peer to peer streaming), to name a few.
Let's just hope that next year can see a keynote fit for 2009 not 1999.
DVB-T2 - rotated constellations (256 QAM): BBC has been leading the work of the DVB group in its next generation DVB-T work. DVB-T2 gives about 50% extra capacity than DVB-T and will be essential for Freeview HDTV services - currently planned for the end of 2009. More detail here: dvb-t2
John Ousby is head of distribution technologies, Audio & Music Interactive.