Over The Top TV

Discussion in 'More News from Your Google TV News Team' started by Rickaren, Jan 25, 2011.

  1. Rickaren

    Rickaren New Member Staff Member

    Nov 20, 2010
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    TV is about to go Over The Top

    The days of the humble, one-way television experience are over; get ready to browse the Web on your telly


    by Shaun Seow

    Jan 26, 2011

    Here's something we should all get used to, even if the technical terms are alien to us: The walls between the television set and computer are crumbling faster than one can say Connected TVs.

    To be sure, there were browser precedents on TV sets from way back in the 1990s. Clunky is how I would describe them, being polite.

    But now, three trends are bringing TV and PC closer together and reinventing our television experience.

    Because the resolution and size of TV sets are becoming truly breathtaking, and the medium is extending into the third dimension, the sexiness has come back to the goggle box. Hence, major websites are now looking at creating TV-sized formats so people can sit on their couch and surf with a wireless keyboard.

    A second development is the availability of faster broadband connections, courtesy of initiatives such as Singapore's Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network (NGNBN). Say bye to buffering, as video streaming quality improves to such an extent that people want to watch online content on big screens.

    Enter Connected TVs, to complete the Holy Trinity. These sets have built-in connectivity which allows the user to move seamlessly between the Internet and TV broadcasts - not unlike devices such as Blu-ray players and modern game consoles.

    Technology is melting user behaviours once siloed by devices. Just as PC users have become used to, or hooked on, catch-up TV via websites such as xinmsn: Hotmail, Messenger and the best of Singapore and international Entertainment, Lifestyle, Sport & News, chances are we will begin to like "smart" TV that imbibes Web characteristics.

    I had a peek into Future TV earlier this month at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show, where key stakeholders are busy positioning themselves for this Brave New World.

    TV set makers like LG, Samsung and Toshiba are aggressively rolling out Connected TVs - bigger, better, faster. Sony, of course, has thrown its weight behind the Mountain View juggernaut, touting the much-vaunted Google TV.

    Word is that no new TV model off the factory floor will come without browser features. And for those "dumb" sets, LG even announced its SmartTV upgrader, which claims to be able to make any TV Web-enabled.

    Excited too are cable operators, another group of key stakeholders. They are signing up to deliver programming straight to TV sets, bypassing the set-top box. Witness the Time Warner Cable-Sony-Samsung deal. The Time Warner Cable boss professed that this would make a better consumer experience, though everyone suspects this is largely driven by fears that consumers will "cut the cord" and drop their cable subscription once premium content from studios starts streaming into Connected TVs.

    Ah, what about studios?

    From what I hear, anxious and sometimes conflicted. At CES 2011, some slick studio executives have found unlikely lunch partners in not-so-smooth hardware guys. The news is that CBS has cut a deal with Boxee, but some studios are still posturing, unsure if streaming shows on a TV set is going to be boon or bane.

    The ride to the New World will no doubt be slowed by copyright tangles. TV set makers themselves, too, create road bumps for conversion with their different operating systems (differentiating points to the consumer, apparently). But there is no denying the journey has begun.


    It is a sign of the times, therefore, that MediaCorp has announced an "Over-the-Top" or OTT interactive television service starting in the second half.

    We have taken something of a leap of faith in this shifting ground of the media industry.

    Our content, leveraging on our own productions and partners, will be delivered via a broadband connection (OTT in industry terminology) and available on TV sets, PCs, tablet devices and mobile phones.

    We will be producing content tailored to an interactive environment, where the PC and TV sets are becoming one. We think the timing is right for Singapore, with consumer electronics giants pushing out Connected TVs and the NGNBN rolling out to homes with connection speeds of up to 100 Mbps.

    In time, our subscriber will be able to watch Channel NewsAsia bulletins with embedded maps and background to guide him as the news is being presented. He can customise to have his stock prices layered over Channel 5, or share his comments in real time with his friend across the island watching the same show. He will also be able to see live traffic pictures of roads he will use on his way to work. The possibilities for transactions, or T-commerce, are boundless.

    Are Singapore consumer ready to embrace this? Going by conversations at business lunches and dinner parties, it's a qualified yes. While no one will be doing heavy surfing on TV anytime soon, many tell me they cannot wait for a more lean-forward experience in the living room. Nor can they wait for set-top boxes to be made redundant by Connected TVs (subtext: still smarting from last year's English Premier League debacle when football fans had to swap set-top boxes with the change in pay TV service provider).

    But I have also met doubting Thomases who say they do not need bells and whistles, and would rather lean back and watch plain old TV. Surely, they add, a TV should not be suped up to become a computer!

    I respect that view, though I do remember how naysayers had once rubbished the idea of adding functionalities to the mobile phone. The mobile is just a talking device; no more, no less. They will probably blush when asked what they do more on the mobile these days - speaking, or doing things like texting, looking up street directions, Googling, taking a picture and posting it on Facebook ...

    Last edited: Jan 25, 2011

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