Recently, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to do a lecture / presentation at the Annual MARUG (Marketing Associatie Rijksuniversiteit Groningen) Conference, the largest Dutch marketing event organised by students here in Groningen. There were over 400 students and business participants this year and the marketing theme for 2010 was Experience Marketing (I actually prefer the term Experiential Marketing). Some of my more recent writings and research have been around emerging television platforms and convergent media so I thought it might be interesting to blend it into the presentation and make it relevant for future marketeers. Because this space could very much play a part in their futures.
Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV or “HbbTV” – the European Industry Standard for Social TV? Or Will it go Global?
by Richard Kastelein (originally posted on Atlantic Free Press)
It’s only been a couple of weeks since the European Broadcasting Union demonstrated the potential of the HbbTV specification at IBC2009 in Amsterdam. But it won’t be long before Europeans start seeing the results – before Christmas according to some pundits. And once compatible devices are out in the market, they say the speed-to-market of applications developed for the platform will be incredibly short… as the industry looks to new models that embrace open API’s and SDK’s much like Apple has done with the iPhone and the Open Source movement online with enormous projects such as Sourceforge. With an HTML environment activated by a simple red button, in the same manner as a Web portal, the resulting content can be delivered over the IP stream.
How similar this will be to the UK’s Project Canvas initiative, announced in February 2009, remains to be seen – and it’s still not clear which platform will really rise to the top or if they will, in fact, reach compatibility at some point. But Project Canvas does bring together content from some of the UK’s biggest channels, including the BBC ITV, Channel 4 and Five. They are working on a more ambitious project to bring what is called catch-up TV and a variety of other programming and interactive services to television sets as soon as next year. But the move faces scrutiny as the BBC is a public broadcaster and particularly from Rupert Murdoch’s Sky TV which is the leading player in the satellite TV in the UK. In a speech last month, Sky heir apparent, James Murdoch abolutely slammed the BBC as an”Orwellian” institution—a provider of “state-sponsored” news with “chilling ambitions”. There were whispers of an an even more hair-raising Microsoft and the Beeb hooking up at IBC, as the partnership was not ruled out the industry titans.
The great news is, for the web development community, HTML arriving on the TV scene will surely mean flocks of coders, designers and entreprenuers making a transition to the next stage in the evolution of TV 2.0 – which may very well provide the next tech bubble much needed in this recession.
And it looks to be levering as possibly not only an EU standard, but also a global one. Asian companies such as Korea’s Tru2way are already picking up on the new standard from the European ETSI and teaming up with global player Alticast. which offers HBBTV with PVR, a pluggable HTML Browser and Flash modules. And Korea’s Kaonmedia has hooked up with Founding member of the HBBTV initiative – ANT in their latest foray into the Asian Market. And Ant pitched a TV portal running a selection of HbbTV services based on the their Galio HbbTV Platform at IBC 2009.
During the IBC show in Amsterdam, Pleyo takes on Yahoo TV with its browser and widgets engine, which is compliant with W3C specifications and compatible with HbbTV (enabling access to interactive applications issued from broadcasting, Satellite or DTT, and broadband Internet networks), and a few other extensions for interactive TV based on the HbbTV standard. The Origyn Web Browser (OWB) is based on Apple’s Webkit and is more particularly designed for TV sets, TV decoders and other consumer electronic devices.
Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV or “HbbTV”, is THE major new pan-European initiative aimed at creating one standard for the broadcast and broadband delivery of entertainment to the end consumer through connected TVs and set-top boxes providing terrestrial TV players a platform to keep up with IPTV development in terms of Web and TV convergence.
Developed by industry leaders to effectively manage the rapidly increasing amount of available content targeted at today’s end consumer, Hybrid Broadband‐Broadcast Services is based on elements of existing standards and web technologies including OIPF (Open IPTV Forum), CEA, DVB and W3C.
The new technology is also called hybrid television because it uses over-the-air transmission as well as broadband connections and can do a lot. It’s terrestrial TV’s play at competing with rapidly emerging IPTV services which are more supple when it comes to Web/TV convergence.
What’s most brilliant about this technology, from the perspective of social media and other developers coming from the web is… it will open up possibilities of using open API’s and SDK’s which will allow independent developers to create customized applications. Imagine watching a sports program that ended with a page of links to similar, archived programs, or to the Web sites of online retailers selling tickets to the events.
HbbTV products and services provide the consumer with a seamless entertainment experience with the combined richness of broadcast and broadband. This entertainment experience will be delivered with the simplicity of one remote control, on one screen and with the ease of use of television that we are used to. Through the adoption of HbbTV, consumers will be able to access new services from entertainment providers such as broadcasters, online providers and CE manufactures – including catch-up TV, video on demand (VoD), interactive advertising, personalisation, voting, games and social networking as well as programme-related services such as digital text and EPGs.
So who else is tapping into HbbTV at the moment?read more
by Richard Kastelein (originally published at Atlantic Free Press)
Whilst the mainstream media players are quietly pushing their technology and innovation teams to the maximum across the world in a race to marry Social Media and TV, most of the public remains oblivious and left out of the loop, mainly due to offerings being in Proof of Concept (POC) stage or not even… and still on the chalkboard.
However, one sector, the Hotel and Hospitality is one of the earlier beneficiaries from the advances that have been made provision and delivery of TV and other services over Internet Protocol will likely be early corporate adopters of Social TV now that network technologies that include the provision of Ethernet networks in hotels is now a standard requirement. Add a wireless keyboard and an advanced TV remote, you can do pretty much anything.
And buzz is starting to generate in this sector as hotels are coming out of a slump and are looking for new ways to attract the web and media savvy 25-45 year old, Gen X and Y generations who are a lucrative target group in many of their marketing strategies. Social TV in a hotel would certainly be an historical PR victory for any marketing team.
IPTV distribution system in hotels is pretty straight forward… providing high quality, full screen digital TV over an Ethernet network using an existing IP network. Not only can digital satellite and terrestrial channels can be broadcast directly to TV’s anywhere in a hotel – but now there’s the opportunity to implement Social TV as well.
We live in a networked society, and our contact list, for most of us who will never see a cradle to grave job, is paramount. Imagine if you could not only sleep in a hotel, but also create a profile in the social TV network and then find others in similar business paths, or potential new partners right in the hotel… whom you could have lunch with or meet up in a pub. Or imagine you could organize short seminars, get people to sign up and do mini ‘unconferences’ or conferences with others whose businesses can converge with you own.
This is great, not only for the guests, but also for the hotel. They will not only be able to offer better service to their clients, but also be able to come to understand their own demographics more… with a Social TV Facebook social media scenario or clone, there’s plenty of data to be shared to everyone, including the hotel… giving them more opportunity to build better services.
Want to book a restaurant? Do it on the TV. Add it to your bill in the Hotel’s Property Management Software (PMS) program and don’t worry about pulling out a credit card. Feel like going to a concert or sporting event while you are in town? Click or type and buy.
Want to download an iPhone or mobile map application with directions from anywhere back to the hotel and listings of all the offerings of the city you are visiting? Plug your PDA or mobile phone into a USB port and suck it down. Need to book the conference room? Do it on the TV. Need to order some food? Pick up the TV remote and choose from room service or an array of restaurants that deliver in the area.
I could even see, in the foreseeable future, a Wii or Xbox network for gaming and sports in hotels. Why not? Feel like a bit of tennis but can’t book a court? Play your neighbor in room 602. Or shoot at the guys in rooms 562 and 788.read more
(Originally published at Atlantic Free Press)
by Richard G. Kastelein
If we all thought the Facebook and Twitter social media growth phenomena were extraordinary, wait until Social TV hits your screens.
And it’s not as far away as you think — not only with the logical IPTV market, but also terrestrial TV. I recently attended the International Broadcast Convention (IBC) in Amsterdam, which bills itself as ’The content creation management delivery experience’. IBC2008 attracted 49,000+ visitors and 1,300+ exhibitors from more than 130 countries. This year is expected to be bigger. Last year, I was part of a team exhibiting at MIPTV in Cannes, and was expecting something a bit similar… but this was almost all about hardware and software and less about the actual formats and programs. However, this was not a disappointment. For embedded in the show there were some jewels… which have profoundly altered my view of Social Media, the future and the implication of reach that will touch billions not millions.
One diamond-in-the-rough was Israeli-based Orca Interactive (link), who was pitching their Social TV product, which was still in Proof of Concept (POC) and this was their first showing to the general public. Orca specializes in IPTV middleware and applications. But they are aggressively moving into social TV. I spoke to CTO Ofer Weintraub (Ph.D.) on their strategy and the nuts and bolts of the technology on offer.
“This is truly social TV — there is nobody on the market with similar offerings,” said Weintraub. He added there is an SDK (Software Development Kit) available now for select partners, but they certainly would not rule out an open API in the future.
And there is tight integration at the database level with website Trustedopinion.com. I discussed the integration with TO founder and CEO Shahar Smirin — whose site topped a million users recently.
“It’s a natural fit,” said Smirin, who then went on to show his web product and how he’s built a viral invite and social ’consolidation’ framework focussed on opinion where one can pile everyone (all your friends, imported/invited) from most major social media sites and really focus on what your friends think about entertainment (mainly movies and theatre for now).
There is synergy between Orca and TO, but let’s now look at Orca. And why this marriage could take social media truly to the masses via IPTV.
One thing to note… Orca Interactive is owned by France Telecom and the 2008 M&A has positioned this duo to take Social TV to a mass global audience. The acquisition last year means that they are well positioned near the ear of one of the world’s leading telecommunications operators and proprietor of the multinational Orange brand. Orange has a base of almost 200 million customers in 30 countries.
There’s nothing overly extraordinary in the makeup of the product — it’s nothing that Internet social media buffs have not seen before. But for TV users, this is going to revolutionize the way they watch TV… from being a passive, solitary, experience into an active, community one.
Here below, you can see recommendations from your friends on a particular movie or program. You can see related VOD products. You can rate it yourself, you can recommend it to a friend, you can see further information and you can send it as a gift to another person (purchased shows are good for 48 hours).
Here you can see your friends’ profiles, chat with them, send them a gift, see their recommends or send them a message.
Here you can send a gift to one or more friends.
And remember, this will all be integrated with your monthly billing. There will be no need for pulling out a credit card and security issues, there will be no need for digging deep to remember your Paypal password. No, the bill arrives like any other or is likely debited from your bank account automatically these days.
One can also set their mood — and then recommendations will be laid out according to complex algorithms and data mining based on your friends and your own data and viewing habits.
As Facebook revolutionized the way advertisers can niche-target their online demographics, Social TV will profoundly change the ad agencies and marketing departments will offer their wares in the television realm. Neilson ratings seem vague, less targetable and will likely become obsolete in TV 2.0.
Equally as interesting, but taking a different tack, is another gem called NDS (link), partially owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, which has a reach to over 107 million pay-TV subscribers worldwide. Their latest product, Social TV was also in POC stage and looks a lot more like ’widgetized’ TV rather than a singular network.
Their model is quite different, but also appealing and unique for a number of reasons. One being it lends itself more to an iPhone app store scenario, with plans for an open API, which positions it well for social media developers and long tail monetization of the social TV landscape. But monetization or not will be decided by the operators not NDS. It also has impeccable design with a beautiful interface.
Obtaining details was a bit sketchy due to their PR person being in meetings and there was, understandably, some hesitancy in getting anyone to go on the record.
However, one of the demo managers did talk to me about some interesting API integration potential with Flickr for instance. If you see something interesting on TV you can be simply one click away from viewing images of that place, object or person. Conceivably the same could be done with the Youtube API in the video space or even Lastfm for music for that matter.
Social networking is also alive and well on Verizon’s FiOS TV and new features are being added such as Facebook and Twitter Widgets. The new Widget Bazaar applications marketplace is located within FiOS TV’s Interactive Media Guide.
Verizon has worked with social media innovators Facebook Connect, Twitter, ESPN, Veoh, blip.tv, and Dailymotion to create a converged Internet-to-television experience that lets FiOS TV subscribers connect with others while watching TV, plus search and view a variety of online, personal PC-based videos on their television screens. Verizon also plans an open development platform (SDK) to permit developers to write interactive FiOS TV applications that will be available through the Widget Bazaar.
Customers are saying they love the new “social TV” Widgets, but they want more. They want to send Tweets, not just look at them. They want to create their own unique Facebook status messages.
According to Shawn Strickland, vice president, marketing for Verizon Telecom, Verizon is working with some popular companies on the Web to create the foundation for a high-quality, engaging Internet-to-TV experience.
A recent report by The Nielsen Company found that there are 87 percent more online social media users now than in 2003, with 883 percent more time devoted to social media sites. Also, the number of American users frequenting online video destinations has also increased by 339 percent since 2003.
Subscribers can Tweet about the TV show they are watching or search and follow their friends’ Tweets. Viewers can also update their Facebook status with their own messages. All of this is simply done via the FiOS TV remote control and an onscreen keyboard.
A Belgian company called Zappware also launched social networking features for its “iView Core” services suite at IBC09. And they had a demo showing how the add-on allows the viewer to connect with friends and family to:
- see what they are watching on their TVs
- exchange favourite lists of TV programmes and VOD movies
- recommend TV programmes or VOD movies to one another
- send VOD movie gifts to their friends
- lock their TV screens onto one another and watch the same content
Koen Swings, CTO & Managing Partner Zappware:
“Social networking has been a buzz word in the past few years, in particular on the internet. With these extensions to our EPG, VOD and PVR products, we now extend social networking from the PC domain to the TV domain, because we are convinced that there is no better environment for sharing TV experiences than the TV itself. In a world, in which people are continuously seeking to connect and in which consumers are willing to embrace new technologies that allow them to connect better and more often, these social networking features on TV will be highly appreciated by viewers. Operators that include these features in their iDTV offering, will be able to offer their subscribers a cross-platform social networking experience, hence adding value to their triple or quadruple play offer and resulting in increased subscriber loyalty.”
So at the end of the day, this is a win, win, win for all — TV stations get better data on their viewers and offer convergence with web ideas and sites, viewers get interactive community-oriented, social television and can make interesting viewing choices based on mood and network of friends, web-based community and social media sites can make more headway into IPTV and broadcast TV, still the Tour de Force of media, and entrepreneurs and developers find a new medium to develop and monetize via new, open-source-philosophy-driven API and SDK environs.
Richard Kastelein, a social media strategist and publisher, is CEO of new startup, Agora Media Group LLC (link), a new creative and innovation agency based in London, UK. Kastelein has been building online communities for over a decade and is an Open Source evangelist. He’s an adept team player – a publisher, writer, photographer, marketing director, web developer and graphic designer with more than 20 years experience in the development and operation of newspapers, magazines, web media and marketing of multinational, companies in international settings.read more
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