The creative potential in connected TV
Earlier this week, Mark Thompson spoke of a common tendency to overestimate the impact technologies can have in the short term, and underestimate the impact they can have in the long-term. That's certainly true in internet-connected TV.
The BBC iPlayer has brought time-shifted viewing on demand to the mainstream, but rather than ushering in the 'death of TV' many forecast, linear TV broadcasting has prospered. The challenge now lies in evolving TV to add the interactive richness that will make TV better, but keep it simple and seamless.
It's an issue close to my heart. In addition to my role as Director of Archive Content, I also represent the BBC's editorial interests in TV on the BBC Online Direction Group, and it's in that capacity I gave a keynote speech at the Digital Television Group's Annual Summit earlier today.
The DTG brings together broadcasters, consumer electronics companies and platform operators to set standards in digital TV through standard-setting initiatives such as the DBook. The DBook provided the standard upon which Freeview (now bringing free to air TV to 15 million households) and Freeview HD (a further 1m households) was built, and will form the basis of YouView's technical specification. With the BBC a
partner shareholder in both ventures, the DTG remains an important shareholder partner as we seek to ensure that subscription-free TV continues to prosper in the internet age.
Connected TV, whether on Pay-TV platforms or free-to-air, remains relatively niche. It's a fragmented, complicated market for licence-fee payers. Pay-TV platforms continue to innovate, the BBC continues to make BBC iPlayer available on a wide range of connected devices and big innovations such as YouView will certainly play a positive role in boosting take-up in the future, but for the most part, video on demand remains largely out of reach for free-to-air homes. And in broadband connected homes, many of the next-generation TVs that can deliver online services to the big screen remain unconnected.
I believe that as an industry, we can do more to make connected TV more attractive and accessible for mainstream audiences. It means working in partnership with the DTG and others to develop innovative gateways into IPTV and on-demand, whether it's the Red Button, 'go-back' EPGs or others.
But above all for the BBC it means continued innovation in online products - like the BBC iPlayer - that will encourage audiences to connect their TVs. Having refocused our online editorial agenda for BBC Online around a product model we're now thinking about which of these products should be repurposed for the big screen - and how we can do this in a way that's both cost-effective and simple for mainstream audiences. Partnership will be the key to delivering on this, and we look forward to tacking the challenges ahead.
You can access my presentation here.
Roly Keating is Director of Archive Content and Executive Editor, BBC Online