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News & Analysis Smart TV Futures


The Olympics is a key consideration for the BBC this year, and it wants to make sure it can offer material from the London Games on Connected TV, mobile and desktop as well as its TV channels, especially during the working day when people are a lot less likely to be able to view on a TV set. At the moment, in the BBC, “it’s hard to get anyone to focus on anything that doesn’t involve the Olympics,” admitted Jane Weedon. But the Games are driving some innovation, as the broadcaster needs to be able to deliver Olympic material to four screens (TV, desktop, mobile and Connected TV) and to the Red button service. “About 13 million people in the UK press Red every week. It may not be as exciting as apps, but it is one thing people know they can do,” she said. The BBC is starting to introduce some connected Red button apps this year, starting with the Virgin TiVo box.

The Corporation has done a lot of work on modelling the traffic patterns for the Olympics, “but there are no precedents.” It has developed a “heat map”, assigning ratings to a particular event to calculate how likely people will want to watch on platforms other than their TV set. How popular is it? Does it involve a British medal hopeful? Can viewers access a TV set at that time of the day? But, few events match two or more of those criteria. “If it is something on TV, most people will try to get to it,” said Weedon.

David Fox

opportunity, such as a new karaoke service that couldn’t afford to launch as a complete channel or manage the subscriptions. PayPal has been in use on the web for 12 years, and has been doing mobile for about six years (which now accounts for a significant part of its business), and it wants to approach the Connected TV market in a similar way, with the same accessibility and security. However, “the market is very

fragmented,” said Hine. UKTV has developed a backend infrastructure that it hopes will last for several years and be able to serve very different platforms. “iPlayer has set consumer

expectations. Viewers expect to get catch-up for free,”

“What’s changing

most is the definition of what a broadcaster is. We tend to talk about content

owners. The high

broadcast entry level cost does not apply online” Tim Gulson, PayPal

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Tim Gulson: “If you get down to the micropayment level, the margins are very thin … it can cease to be profitable”

he added. UKTV’s three free-to- air channels could have free catch-up, but the other seven channels are behind a pay wall, and he sees pay-per-view as more likely than subscription. “We’re very business model

agnostic, whether pay for access, pay to own or pay to rent,” said Gulson. PayPal will also offer pay- as-you-go billing. “Every analyst will tell you something different about how people want to pay for content, but we don’t know right now which will prevail.”

A Grimm tale One of the advantages of Connected TVs and second- screen devices (like the iPad) is that social networks can help promote a programme — during prime time it is estimated that some 40% of Twitter chatter is related to TV. “The amount of reach

Facebook has in 15-24 year olds is a very important demographic for the BBC,” said Weedon. But, for broadcasters, making the most from social networks requires something more

During prime time it’s estimated some

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groundbreaking than merely sharing with friends.

The BBC has done some work on using recommendations from friends, “but found that the take up on that was relatively low.” However, the Corporation does place a lot of importance on what people are saying on a network like Twitter, as it is a very good way of getting feedback. One of UKTV’s channels,

Watch, premiered the first season of Grimm the night before the discussion, and had found “a massive increase in tweets during the programme and a corresponding rise in viewing numbers,” said Hine.

of Twitter chatter is related to TV April 2012

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