|Issue:||Latin America 2009|
|Topic:||Blending television and the Net|
Mauro Bonomi is Minerva’s Founder, Chairman and CEO. Prior to founding Minerva, Mr Bonomi was Vice President of Marketing at C-Cube Microsystems (Acquired by LSI Logic). Mr Bonomi has contributed heavily to the adoption of digital video technology in the consumer and communications markets. Mauro Bonomi holds Master’s Degrees in both Electrical Engineering and Management from Stanford University and received an Undergraduate Degree with honours in Electrical Engineering from Pavia University in Italy.
The seamless integration of Internet content and applications with managed television services significantly increases the differentiation between IP-connected television services and legacy offerings. It will expand the range of business models open to operators offering television services. The next-generation television experience includes high-definition video, a vast variety of content, time-shifted programming, the ability to manage and share content across all devices in the home, seamless blending of Web-based content and applications, and business models based on targeted advertising with interactive response.
The opportunity to offer a truly differentiated television experience is now open to service providers who can bring Internet content and applications into their managed service domain. Broadband service providers finally have the means to outdistance competitors by delivering a richer television experience by adding new applications and services at a pace and on a scale that legacy providers cannot match. The past few years have witnessed a dramatic change in the use of the Internet for entertainment and social purposes. Content providers and applications developers are leveraging Web 2.0 technology to build audiences and generate advertising revenues at an accelerating pace. Rather than continuing to view Web content and services as a potential competitive threat, operators are now beginning to exploit the dynamic capabilities of the Internet to their own advantage. A new television experience Efforts to radically alter the subscriber experience and improve the revenue models associated with traditional television services have reached a fever pitch. The vision of what constitutes a next-generation television experience consists of many elements, including: • availability of high-definition video content; • access to time-shifted programming; • ability to manage and share content across all devices in the home; • seamless blending of Web-based content and applications with the managed services; • a personalized approach to discovering all available content and applications; and • relevant and targeted advertisements supporting interactive responses. Operators offering IP-based video services (IPTV) have already introduced some of the elements of the next-generation television experience ahead of incumbent competitors who are held back by the limitations of legacy technology. As they rely on switched networks, IPTV providers can offer as many channels in HD format as they choose, whereas incumbents are constrained by the limited capacity of their shared-access platforms. This advantage also applies to delivering time-shifted programming and video on-demand services. Nevertheless, even the most forward-thinking providers have barely begun to cross the threshold into the next-generation television experience. The ability to share recorded content across multiple set-top boxes in the home, a service known as whole-home digital video recording (WHDVR), is just entering the marketplace. This feature takes advantage of home networking to enable connected consumer devices to access media stored in a shared set-top box with embedded storage. Subscribers will be able to independently play, pause, rewind and fast-forward programming stored on a shared DVR from any television in the home. The discovery and delivery of music, photos, home videos and other content stored on personal computers or other connected devices to the television set is also becoming a reality. A key facet of the next-generation television experience, the integration of Web-based content and applications into the managed service, is quickly becoming a reality. Presently broadband subscribers can access whatever they wish in the way of Web content, including long-form television programming and movies as well as user-generated content and professionally produced Web programs. However, they can only view such content on their personal computers unless they purchase special hardware that is often tailored to a specific service. Simple Widgets delivering relevant Internet data such as news feeds, stock quotes and weather information are now enjoying rapid adoption in the television space. Each Widget can be tailored to local needs thanks to tie-ins with customer account information through the service provider’s back-office interface. The introduction of Widget-based applications marks the first step toward development of an applications development and supply ecosystem that will come to mirror what has been accomplished in the smart phone application store sphere. By tapping into an application store, even small service providers will be able to offer differentiated services which combine Internet content and applications with legacy television programming. The television set could soon become a preferred device to enjoy pictures or slide shows posted on MySpace or Facebook. As the pool of available content increases, the ability to discover it through friends’ recommendations will become ever more appealing. Perhaps no aspect of the new television paradigm is being more widely explored than the monetization associated with more relevant and targeted approaches to advertising. The capability to tap into proven, Web-based advertising systems will make it possible for operators to offer targeted advertisements. New business models While the pace of telephone companies’ entry into the subscription television services market has grown dramatically in recent years, many have held back because the business models associated with IPTV were not a good fit for their strategic needs. In some instances, the costs of network upgrades to accommodate IPTV services were deemed too high to ensure an adequate return on investment. Many operators concluded they could only mount an IPTV service that was a virtual replication of existing satellite or cable services, forcing them to compete exclusively on price. New platforms supporting open interfaces for the integration of third-party applications and services will enable operators to overcome these barriers. The ability to deliver high-quality Internet content to the television set also addresses the concerns of operators who are looking for a low-cost means of differentiating their services. Operators can mount a Web-based video on demand service (VOD) through affiliation with on-line aggregators (e.g. Amazon, Blockbuster) avoiding the cost of building their own VOD infrastructure. Operators of any size now have an opportunity to generate a superior return on investment and improve customer retention by offering a highly differentiated service. Key functionalities Next-generation IPTV delivery platforms will significantly improve the operator’s return on investment by enabling differentiated services and reducing the capital investment. The new platforms will support open API’s and Web 2.0 technology, such as Widgets, for the rapid integration of blended Internet and Television applications and services. Next-generation platforms will also feature a more advanced architecture which decouples the back-office service management system from the client presentation module. A variety of new devices, including personal computers and mobile appliances, will be easily supported by the new platforms, broadening the reach and appeal of the services. The new platforms will also allow the client application software to be downloaded dynamically to each consumer device rather than requiring that to be resident in the device. This capability is essential to enable connectivity of any standards-based IP player (e.g. set-top box) to a service provider’s managed service, regardless of whether those devices are purchased at retail or supplied by the operator. The seamless integration of Internet content and applications with managed television services will significantly increase the differentiation between IP-connected television services and legacy offerings. It will also expand the range of business models open to operators offering television services.