What The Hell Is Google TV?

By Nigel Walley – Augst 2010

So Google and Sony have jointly announced the launch of Google TV – a range of set top boxes running a version of Google’s Android software. Google have also announced a range of other box launches in the US before Xmas.  You may have seen the press notices about this, and we would like to offer an explanation and opinion on its importance.

First thing is to understand the background landscape.  Broadly, there are three types of competitor in the TV market at the moment: the pay operators (like Sky and Virgin) who make their own boxes and software; the set top box manufacturers who are making Freeview and Freesat boxes with all sorts of fun stuff added over-the- top of broadcast  (sometimes called the ‘over the top’  or OTT  boxes); and the device manufacturers, like Sony,  who are desperately trying to grab ownership of the TV experience in the home with a device centric strategy.  Google TV has relevance for both the OTT and device manufacturers.

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Is Netflix Coming Our Way?

By Alex Street

The nature of competition in pay TV markets could be about to change. Internet-enabled TVs and connected devices represent a fundamental change to the way content is distributed and markted to the viewer. I’d like to address these issues by looking at one company’s attempt to build a hybrid distribution strategy that capitalizes on the growth of internet-enabled devices connected to the TV set.

Historically, a single TV platform has been in control of the viewer experience in the home. If I was a Sky customer, Sky controls everything interesting to do with TV in my home. In fact I pay them to do so. The arrival of video on demand products on Blu Ray, games consoles and internet TVs challenges this control. For example, quite soon, in my home, when it comes to watching movies or catch up, I’ll have a choice of platform at the point of decision. In other words, instead of picking up the Sky remote, I’ll have several remotes all competing to deliver me the same thing and or similar things. I will no longer be limited to the TV platform I subscribe to. This puts device manufacturers in direct competition with pay platforms and this isn’t a challenge one American company seems to fear.

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“Who Gave The IT Department A F*#king Brand To Play With?”

By Nigel Walley

We have been looking at the role of PC VOD in the TV industry recently and reflecting on how, in attempting to capture the potential of this new medium, the industry seems to be making many of the same mistakes of the  first dot.com boom. The  way that the PC VOD teams appear to operate as separate fiefdoms in all the main broadcasters seems troubling, and strangely familiar.

People appear to have forgotten that, when the internet came crashing into corporate life in the mid nineties, confusion and conflict quickly blew up in many big companies.    The battle lines were particularly drawn between IT and marketing over the vexed question of ‘who owned the web site’.  The IT departments thought that, as they were the only people who understood the  new technology, they should be in charge of the web site. Like the TV industry, the creative departments in most companies were slow to react.  Suddenly, IT departments started recruiting web designers and content people to run the company web sites, and conflicts with the marketing teams broke out.

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Is The VOD Industy Lying To Us Or To Themselves

By Nigel Walley

Martin Johnson, the England rugby coach stood in front of the cameras after the England Scotland game at the weekend and said that he saw improvement in the England team.  Like most of the English sporting audience, who had just watched a dire display of turgid rugby, I gulped in shock  and stared at the screen feeling very uncomfortable.

My discomfort came from the fact that Martin Johnson should be able to do no wrong in my eyes.  He is someone I revere, and for whom I desire success in a very difficult job.  But he was talking rubbish.  What I couldn’t work out was whether he knew he was but was fronting up, or whether he actually believed the stuff he was saying.  It is discomforting when people I like, and want to succeed, spout stuff that is not believable. Particularly if I am not sure that they believe it either.  I am beginning to feel this way about a whole host of new media initiatives that are currently underway.

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Why do I still watch broadcast TV?

Adrian Stroud – June 2009

I recently challenged myself to work-out why I still watch so much ‘live’ TV. I don’t mean news or sport because I can rationalise those genres quite easily. I mean bread and butter programming.
The challenge came about because I was debating just how much more damage all the VOD services and PVRs will do to live TV viewing figures in the long-run. This is important because it is those live viewing figures that contribute the vast bulk of advertising impacts. VOD currently delivers far, fewer impacts per hour of viewing than live TV, so the ‘end game’ for advertising funded TV programming is defined by this question. My guess was that live TV won’t drop more than perhaps 25%, no matter how many VOD and time shifting gadgets like Sky+ launch, but I could not say why. I suspect I’m making the mistake of confusing the technology with the benefits.
VOD and the PVR are the rational way to consume all but the livest of live TV events. So, when VOD has all the content you want and it is available on every screen in the house, why would you want to watch ordinary old broadcast TV at all?

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Whose Shares Wins? ITV vs Google

See Decipher discuss the Susan Boyle case on Channel 4 news here

Much was made in the press about ITV not earning any revenue from all the people watching the clip of Susan Boyle on Britain’s Got Talent on YouTube.  This has been described by various commentators as a missed revenue opportunity, and a commercial failure for ITV.  This completely misses the point.  Over 50 million people tuned into watch the Susan Boyle clip on YouTube.  It was the best two minute ad for a TV programme that has ever been distributed and ITV didn’t pay a penny for the privilege.  You have to ask how many posters a TV company would have to buy to get an equivalent, media impact.  The only statistic of interest should have been the uplift in audience, from the episode before to the episode after the YouTube explosion of Miss Boyles version of Les Miserables. There was a 2 million uplift.

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The BBC Is A Pay TV Operation

Nigel Walley – February 2009

I opened my bank statement the other day to see how much I paid Sky.  What I found interesting wasn’t the Sky number, but the line underneath. By some quirk, the direct debit that I pay to TV licencing was listed underneath. I pay just over £11 a month to the BBC for TV and radio.  Now, as a middle class middle Englander, I understand how much value I squeeze out of the BBC for that money.  I probably use way over the average amount of BBC output, and don’t begrudge it.  What I find odd is that the industry still lumps the BBC together with ITV, C4 and Five in our discussions about free to air television.

The BBC is quite clearly not a free to air broadcaster.  I pay a subscription every month to access the content and it is quite clearly a Pay-TV operator in terms of the way it is financed.  The only differences between the BBC and the other Pay-TV operators are that it is a compulsory subscription and that they have a variety of public service obligations in return.

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Could Free TV be the new Pay TV?

The other night I went to bed with Paxman. His typical wit and insight on the global credit crunch got me thinking about where the belt can be tightened in my own household. As the Sky EPG finally bid me farewell after I had convinced myself that there was nothing on worth watching live and everything on my Sky+ box demanded more than the 12 minutes or so I was prepared to give it, my mind focussed what I pay for TV. A rather interesting picture started to form.

I, like Parkinson and Felicity Kendal, am a Sky+ fan. It’s easy and works for me. Point, shoot, job done. I would estimate that 75% of my watching is ‘off line’, so to speak. However, a review of what is currently sitting on my hard drive is rather revealing – Heroes, Madman, Jonathan Ross and at least 2 movies for the wife, QI, the cricket, Have I Got News for You and Panorama for me. Mmm..mostly provided by free to air channels. OK, so why am I not on FreeView?

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The White Elephant of Mobile

I’m never more than a few inches away from it and like most people, I play with mine all the time. Despite this level of intimacy with our mobiles, our functional use of them has not developed at such a pace. Sure we take a few snaps and videos, but the content of these is typically personal. If you’ve ever skimmed through your mobile the morning after a boozy session, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Frankly however, I’d be more surprised if I found an episode of Lost or 24 on my mobile, than a video with what looks like my mates auditioning for Wayne Rooney’s wedding reception. Sure I was tipsy, but what on earth would have possessed me to download that over the network last night?!

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Mobile is Dead, Long Live Mobile

From Walley On Media – NMA July 2nd .

Did you know that a Yeti is a form of cryptid – ‘an animal ‘whose existence has been reported but not proven’? This is my word of the week. I use it all the time now to describe mobile TV – a new media format whose existence has continually been reported but never proven.

Many cryptids go on to be proven. The Okapi for instance, but I am not sure that mobile TV ever will. One of the problems with proving it is, of course, defining it. With Okapis it was simple – half zebra half giraffe. No messing around. You ask two new media type to define mobile TV and you get 3 different answers depending what bits of kit they have in their pockets. Most people asking, I think, are referring to the streamed and download services offered by the mobile networks – like Sky TV on my Vodafone service. Well, I tried to watch cricket on my phone once via this service. There was definitely something on the screen but I am not sure that I could call it telly.

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