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Streaming Media Europe Keynote #1: The Online Video Experience—Viewing Into The Future

The delivery of TV over broadband data networks is the next step in the transition to digital distribution and broadcasters and media companies will ignore the risk that poses at their peril.

That was the key message which Dr. William Cooper, Founder and Chief Executive, informitv spelt out to delegates attending Streaming Media Europe.

In the opening keynote to the two-day conference Dr. Cooper predicted that the next generation of TV services will continue to transition from the characteristics of analogue media and the structures and services of the organisations that delivered it to those defining the digital era.

"The changes in digital distribution will inevitably impact media production and consumption," he said. "Digital networks offer the ability to reach a global audience of nearly half a billion homes—considerably exceeding the reach of any broadcaster. That audience is far larger than closed or managed IPTV services which are unlikely to obtain more than a few million subscribers in the near future."

Dr. Cooper charted the genesis of the move toward the network TV revolution which has altered the landscape of TV more in five years than in the preceding five decades.

"The first digital TV revolution was mainly a conversion from analogue to digital acquisition, recording, production and transmission," he said. "It didn’t fundamentally change the form and function of broadcast TV.

However the networked TV revolution involved the convergence of communications networks and the divergence of devices and it will significantly change patterns of media production, distribution and consumption. It will result in a shift in power from broadcasters and platform operators, who once controlled the means of electronic TV distribution, to producers and consumers.

"This new form of TV will fundamentally affect the way video is viewed. It will change the channels of distribution and disrupt the traditional broadcast business as the boundaries between TV, telecoms and IT collapse and collide.

"There will be an exponential explosion of channels and a proliferation of content on demand," he forecast. "The choice of channels and programmes will further explode as viewers roam beyond the national borders of broadcast TV and access live and recorded programming from around the world.

While telcos seek to enter the entertainment business by launching their own TV services the bigger picture is shaped by hundreds of millions of homes connected to broadband networks.

"It will for example create a global distribution platform for programming and a more efficient method of delivering niche content to a global audience."

Dr Cooper predicted that delivery of AV programming over connected networks could eclipse the dominance of broadcast.

"Like radio before it TV could become a secondary mass medium. It took less than a decade for TV to supersede radio and anyone who thinks broadcast TV will be immune to the internet will surely be mistaken."

With 400m connected homes worldwide of which Western Europe has the largest share, it represents an enormous addressable market.

"The roles of conventional broadcasters will be further eroded as they are bypassed by other forms of distribution. CE companies for example are taking advantage of the opportunity to connect to networks that are able to deliver much more than TV channels."

While he noted that the majority of AV content is still viewed on the TV the dominance of that display in the home is being rapidly eroded as broadcasters look to deliver hybrid broadband delivered content alongside conventional linear channels.

"The next main development is that VOD and IP-delivered video will be viewed in the living room," he declared. "The networked TV revolution is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed yet."

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