As major new TV services are being announced and rolled out all over the world, I thought it would be a good time to explore this topic. This idea was born from both the increased publicity Internet enabled TVs are getting (due mostly to Google) and my own ignorance into the topic. There have been a lot of terms thrown around, like IPTV, Internet TV, Over-The-Top TV and I had no idea how all these ideas related to one another. My aim is to write a series of posts that will explain what these terms actually mean and explore this exciting emerging industry in more detail. I’ll have a look at the major players contributing to the emergence of the service in the UK, mainland Europe and America and I’ll highlight some of the problems and opportunities with these services. I’ll also later look at some of the other services that are not so centrally involved in shaping the industry but are no-less significant.
So without further ado, let’s begin……
What is IPTV and Over-The-Top TV (OTT TV)
The reception of digital TV and, in particular, HD broadcasting in the home is well established. The delivery of multimedia content to the home user via the Internet is also becoming in-creasingly common, although such content is often viewed on a PC or fed to a TV screen from a PC via a media player connected to a home network. Despite the rapid growth of the online video market in the last five years, it has evolved in parallel with the TV market.
This trend has recently been changing however and increasingly we are seeing online content being merged with traditional broadcasting technology on the television, enabled through tech-nologies like IPTV and OTT TV. IPTV delivers video content over a closed secure infrastructure that can only receive content from the IPTV providers’ channels and it is constantly on-going in a standardisation process (e.g., European Telecommunications Standards Institute). Internet TV on the other hand is delivered over the open public internet – ‘over the top’ of existing networks. This situation is being aided by the rise of ever-faster broadband connections and more effi-cient compression technologies. It has provided the foundations to fundamentally affect the way television is viewed, change channels of distribution and disrupt the traditional broadcast-ing business, as the conventional boundaries of television and online content collide.
So far, these emerging TV services have remained rudimentary, but real impetus for their growth will come from initiatives such as YouView (aka Project Canvas) in the UK, HbbTV in Europe, Google TV in the USA and the global Open IPTV Forum (OIPF). There seems to be numerous other access points for online content penetrating the market as well, such as BBC’s iPlayer, TiVo Premiere, Boxee, Apple TV, Hulu, Joost, JumpTV and many others, making the process of getting on-demand quality content a lot simpler.
In the next post I’ll have a look at some of the biggest players that are shaping this industry.