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TV On IP For 2008

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Ashley Highfield | 12:54 UK time, Thursday, 10 January 2008

2007 was the year of short-form content, seeing 50% growth in the UK. 2008 will be more about long-form content, of full-length programmes available over the internet to mass audiences.

Many trends are driving this.

  • First, the rights clearance framework will enable full-length BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five content to be made available free (with or without ads) over the web.
  • Second, cheaper distribution costs, driven by falling prices for streaming from the content distribution networks, are making long-form streaming models viable.
  • Third, content owners' long-term technology projects to make this vast amount of content available over IP are now coming on-stream.
  • Fourth, audience-facing products are reaching maturity and the quality of the video they serve has improved enormously.
  • Finally, improved technologies from Adobe (Air) and Microsoft (Silverlight) will help drive ease of use, adoption and consumption.

I hope that Internet Service Providers ensure their "unlimited broadband" promises mean what they say on the tin and that we see a faster rollout of higher-speed services - hats off to Virgin's 50Mbps broadband service. The only thing missing is the final ten yards of railroad/ getting IP video to the large screen in the living room. 2008 will be the year when a decent range of devices - TV, Xbox Live Marketplace, BT Vision, Tiscali TV or just a simple VGA cable from laptop to TV - finally hit the mainstream.

Bebo's Kate Modern is just the beginning. Other sites like Constant Comedy and VideoJug are showing the way. Watch out TV: here comes IP.

N.B. A version of this post originally appeared in New Media Age [subscription may be required to access link]

Ashley Highfield is Director, BBC Future Media and Technology.


  1. At 04:10 PM on 10 Jan 2008, Josh wrote:

    Things are going to really pick up when we all get those fiber optic cables to connect to the internet.

  2. At 09:22 AM on 11 Jan 2008, Greg K Nicholson wrote:

    If you, a public service broadcaster, try to help adoption of Air or Silverlight, closed and proprietary formats, I hope Mozilla fights you all the way.

  3. At 11:50 PM on 11 Jan 2008, John Drinkwater wrote:

    I think you’re wrong about Air and Silverlight - they’re not going to ease adoption, because they’re *yet another* plugin that one has to obtain. A whole runtime just to fetch a media file... what nonsense.
    We’re had the protocols (http, rtsp, *), the codecs (real, h.26x, theora, *), the standards (smil, *) for streaming media for years, now is not the time to rip that all out and replace it with new (and hardly proven) systems with their futures based on the whims of greedy (in the lock-in sense) companies.

    When the BBC starts working more with the standards bodies like W3C (<video>?) to help progress the Web, I’ll know you finally get it.

  4. At 03:08 PM on 16 Jan 2008, Ryan Morrison wrote:

    I think the real leap forward for IPTV will be when you get iPlayer content and the other broadcasters get their catch-up services on things like the AppleTV and the XBox 360

  5. At 09:36 PM on 16 Jan 2008, Marc Kirkwood wrote:

    I tried Democracy Player a while ago, and I found it slow and cumbersome, but at least it used fully open backends like BitTorrent and XULRunner (Gecko). The new version, Miro I think, looks like an improvement; although I haven't used it yet.

    So why does the iPlayer use "secure" P2P in the form of Kontiki? Is it better than BitTorrent? And I know that there's an argument that the BBC doesn't own the rights to all of the programmes it shows -- but why should there be DRM on in-house productions that are funded directly from the licence fee? Just because Top Gear is sold to 2Entertain, it doesn't mean that we should have to buy the DVD when we paid for it in the first place... The stupid interactive games are perhaps another matter as they may involve different companies, but the original shows were originally broadcast in plain old MPEG-2 to every Freeview box in the first place. I could record whatever I wanted and keep it for more than seven days; why is the BBC yet again trying to claw back more revenue?

    http://www.boingboing.net/2007/10/30/bbc-execs-strawman-d.html -- a good article in response to the BBC executive interview.

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