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Orchestrated Media - beyond second and third screen (II)

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Jerry Kramskoy Jerry Kramskoy | 14:00 UK time, Friday, 18 February 2011

Last week, I talked about second and third screen. I explained that typically the media content on our personal devices, the laptop or mobile etc, is unrelated to that on the TV. In this view of the world, the TV is the primary screen, the one getting the most attention.

This week I want to talk about a concept that involves content and applications on these different personal devices collaborating and interacting with the TV, radio or online programme (I use the term programme below) including time shift.

In a future post, Steve Jolly shall be blogging on using these personal devices for controlling the TV or radio. For example a personal device may provide an EPG “app” designed for specific accessibility needs, communicating with the TV.


What is Orchestrated Media?

For the sake of this discussion, we’ll assume that the TV is a digital TV or set top box, and the radio is a digital radio. The programme is received as usual via broadcast or on-demand). Simultaneously, additional content is delivered or triggered as companion to the programme. This companion content is interacted with on the personal devices, via a web app (browser) or native app synchronised with the programme as needed.

In BBC R&D mobile (connected home) team, we use the term Orchestrated Media (OM) to refer to this experience of interaction, synchronisation, and collaboration of programme and companion content across devices. OM creates a new form of audience engagement with the broadcaster. Let’s start with some high level goals

• Enable interactivity around the content (voting, games) and synchronisation thereof, based on time and/or events (such as a producer-console triggered “button push”)
• Enable richer exploration of programme
• Enable social network interactions through sync-related information and content identifiers for replay purposes
• Migrate content between the TV and mobile devices (such as a load-and-go service that runs overnight to load the mobile with video corresponding to the unwatched portion of a program, or a resume-for-home service that picks up viewing on the TV from where it left off on mobile)

Some of the necessary components in reaching these goals include
• Visual feedback of shared interactions on TV screen
• Private interactions on mobile screens
• Support for not only live experience but also time-shifted and on-demand and pay-per-view ones
• A back-channel to broadcaster for interactions, behaviour etc
• Audio for different languages, directors commentary, clean audio etc, selectable per individual, synchronised to the programme
• Accessibility for all above
• Application life-cycle and runtime management

With these features, the show producer now can extend the experience of the show beyond the programme into these additional devices. Let’s refer to this collection of devices, the TV / radio and the personal devices, as the home media devices. Through this collective approach, different aspects of the show are experienced simultaneously on each home media device as makes editorial sense. The arrangement is a peer-to-peer one, where at times the programme’s receiving device is the master and the personal device is the slave, and at other times the personal device is the master, depending how the end-user chooses to interact with the show. The companion content (be that web, social media, video …) contains identifiers for the programme. These identifiers, along with synchronisation data, allow the programme to be positioned to a given segment.

If the TV or radio supports applications, then these too can collaborate with the apps on these personal devices, enabling family interactions. The TV application can provide the shared user experience, for example, user icons and game or vote scores, while the personal devices are private.

The combined effect is to enhance the programme, through interaction, exploration or social chatter. Some show genres lend themselves better than others to this approach. We believe this creates a compelling user experience whilst. Of course, the user experience must be as intuitive as possible.

Social media around the programme becomes very interesting. It is a form of companion content. With time shift, the programme can drive the historical social media and vice-versa.

Commercial applications

OM supports IP-distributed companion content. Agencies are an obvious provider for companion content in the form of advertisements, individualised to the recipient’s personal device, related to the programme, or even to a broadcast advert. There is much potential for new business models and even value chains.

Next week …

Next week, I’ll look at some OM use cases, the OM UX design philosophy, and options for synchronisation. I’ll also present some thoughts from our behavioural psychologists in R&D who have been examining the audience experience aspects.


  • Comment number 1.

    Surely all the development of these concepts is only of use in the commercial world. Unless the BBC are permitted to have advertisers on the augmented services (as they are on the web outside the UK) then there cannot be the budgets to provide the additional materials for Orchestrated Media. There may be some money with flagship programmes and sport (what's left of it on BBC) but most producers will roll their eyes or laugh nervously when asked to fund the content.

    Where in R&D is the research into economic viability?

  • Comment number 2.

    Hi Kit, you'll be pleased to know that Orchestrated Media research is being conducted very much with the economics of how such content gets created in mind. What you need to remember is that much of the content that we'd like to synchronise across platforms already exists. This technology could offer effective and efficient ways to 'orchestrate' the content so that it appears in editorially appropriate times and places. If anything, we'd hope that rather than adding cost, that we are actually adding value to the experience, and that given appropriate research work we can do so very efficiently.

    You're quite right to remind us of the challenges around cost that we always need to bear in mind, but we are confident that as we progress in this research we will fgind cost effective ways to utilise it for the benefit of programme makers and license fee payers.

    Thanks, Ant

  • Comment number 3.

    '2. At 11:54 21st Feb 2011, Ant Miller

    Try cutting that reply by 50% and you may fgind it just fits in the new character limit being rolled out.

    Zero value, but well fit. There's a metaphor or two in there somewhere for much going down across Aunty's 'hood.

    Confidence can be a trick. And over-rated.


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