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IPTV holds the key to viewer empowerment

IPTV holds the key to viewer empowerment

Author | Saurabh Niranjan Turakhia | Monday, Jan 16,2006 7:48 AM

IPTV holds the key to viewer empowerment

Imagine having access to all ‘Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’ episodes along with the freedom to watch them when you want, for an affordable sum. Imagine the freedom to buy viewership rights only for a particular event without having to subscribe to the channel for the whole month. All this and much more is possible when IPTV (TV over Internet Protocol) enters India in a big way.

And there is no reason why it shouldn’t take off soon, with players like Reliance, MTNL, VSNL, etc., reportedly having their plans already in place.

What we are talking about here is the revolution of convergence – convergence of voice, video and data. This has several implications. Said Ved Sen, Vice-President, Recreate Solutions, UK, “Once IPTV comes into picture, a lot is going to change. However, the bottlenecks need to be cleared first.”

Recreate Solutions is a provider of technology enabling services to the interactive television industry. With a team of 75 people, it delivers solutions to interactive channel operators, video-on-demand service providers and broadcasters. It uses a hybrid onshore-offshore development model to deliver enhanced value to clients. Recreate Solutions, a London-based company floated by ex-Zee employee Bhaskar Majumdar, is also a part of a consortium led by IBM bidding for IPTV projects in the Asia-Pacific region.

Right now television viewing is through satellite and cable, which has quite a few drawbacks. For one, the receiving and sending devices are different, thereby creating a restriction for interactivity. IPTV works on DSL for both ways of communication. What’s more, IPTV will enable to do away with research questionnaires seeking to find out what a person was watching yesterday as the device itself (STB or Set Top Box) will record quite a bit of useful information.

A few changes that will be driven by IPTV include:

No peak time concept: In an IPTV regime, the concept of peak time viewing will be redundant. The power of choice will totally shift in favour of the viewer. Also, just like today one has the freedom to buy only the song which he or she likes and not necessarily the entire album, similarly, shows or properties that are of interest to the viewers can be bought for that particular time and there will be no need to subscribe to the whole channel.

Google to lead by video search: Web search giant Google has launched its video search engine, Google Video, which was launched by the company last year. It is quite likely that its web success will be emulated in the video media too. This is how it works – a search for a phrase will return an excerpt of a matching program transcript and a still TV image of exactly when the phrase was spoken.

Changes in media planning and media buying: On the marketing and advertising front too, a lot will change, said Sen. For one, media planning and media buying will change drastically. Also, advertising would change. Honda, for example, has already invested a lot of money in developing great advertisements, possibly with expertise of Hollywood professionals. Advertisements will need to be much more connecting as well as interesting.

Blocking the way: The issues that remain are that of broadband connectivity, so also legislation. Here, Sen mentioned how poor policy actually blocked the progress of mobile telephony in the US. The last mile coverage will be a challenge, for sure. Reliance has managed to spread its network within 600 meters of every home. To further the network would prove to be a challenge.

Content to lead the way: Content companies are expected to be among the front-runners when IPTV comes to existence. The sheer power of choice that the consumers will have will compel content companies to deliver better, meaningful content.

Having foreseen quite a few expected happenings as immediate fallout of IPTV’s entrance, Sen said, “A lot of the future is all about wait-and-watch. Along with strategy, what will also matter will be execution. It may not be true that the ‘next big thing’, which has everyone’s votes, would necessarily succeed as a lot of things have to fall in place for everything to go the way it is expected.”

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