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It was a ‘dream day’ for www.appmarket.tv today at MIPCOM 2010 – with six events dealing with connected TV, convergent media and apps.
From eight am to six pm – including a cocktail party, it’s the first time that I have seen so much focus and dialogue about convergence, it’s potential opportunities and threats and how the content providers' views are, on a landscape that is undoubtedly going to cause huge disruption to their market and the way they do business.
The blog at MIPCOM picked up the question I asked that I have wanted to ask the content world for weeks:
Packer was asked about parallels with the music industry – ‘is connected TV the Napster effect, will someone be able to bring up The Pirate Bay on their Google TV?‘
“It is a concern, but our hope is first of all that if you have a big 60-inch TV… you want good content,” he replied. So legal services are providing quality content that will be more appealing than pirated content. However, he also had a warning.
“We also quite frankly need to be very diligent. If all of a sudden one of the widgets on Yahoo TV is Pirate Bay, I’m going to be making a phone call! I don’t necessarily like that, and do you want my content…”
Unfortunately Google TV was not there to respond. And I have asked several parties at Google TV how they will handle the issue of opening up the full web to the big screen and therefore providing access to all kinds of illegal content. I have gotten no real response other than… 'we have not reached a decision'.
Google’s online video site Youtube has a policy of eradicating porn on its site but pretty much turns a blind eye to content that is under copyright and the intellectual property of content providers. Viacom lost a billion dollar lawsuit To YouTube in a landmark copyright case earlier this year. Google's interpretation of a 12-year-old law that shields Internet services from claims of copyright infringement as long as they promptly remove illegal content when notified of a violation was enough for the judge to toss it out of court. Note that Viacom courted YouTube before launching $1bn piracy lawsuit.
Google’s YouTube also won a case in the European courts brought against it by Spanish TV channel Telecinco over intellectual property rights. The Germans were a little stricter – A German judge recently said Google should do more to detect illegal uploads to its YouTube video service when ruling on a case in August brought by an alliance of composers and songwriters' performance rights societies led by Germany's GEMA.
But Google has a hard policy on porn:
Porn is a violation of YouTube's terms of service and not permitted on the YouTube site. Any porn that is uploaded is quickly deleted.
That does not mean to say they have not suffered planned porn upload attacks that have caused problems.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt spoke at the National Association of Broadcasters 2007 conference, and promised the gathered audience of TV and radio broadcasters that piracy would soon become a non-issue.
The lingering question remains. Google TV is coming. Will Google actually take more steps and use available technology to pull down copyrighted clips from appearing on the big screen in the living room? This is an unknown at this point. Youtube is an integral part of their online portfolio and it’s coming to a Google TV near you.
Note that Google is tossing a bone with their promise that Google TV will be ad-free for first year - minimizing rapid disruption to TV industry.
Music and TV/Film – parallels, threats and opportunities.
Having worked in the music industry for a number of years, and having attended the International Live Music Conference in London earlier in 2010, I have observed the disruption first-hand and talked to the labels, promoters, agents, managers and the rest of the daisy chain between the artists and fans about how it was playing out for them.
The main threat in the music industry – particularly with the labels, has been the takeover of paid music by iTunes in conjunction with the pirating of audio via various p2p networks and Bittorrent. After years of bending over for the labels, the live music sector has taken over as the breadwinner for artists as they see huge drops in CD sales.
But now after a couple of years of gloating by the live sector over the demise of the labels, they have come around and realized that without the labels, who is going to fund the new acts? Brands? Behemoths like Red Bull and others? And it’s also got them concerned. Because without A list acts, they are also out of business.
It’s a good question and it’s a situation that the TV and Film content creators and producers have to look closely at. Despite the group hugs from PWC saying it will all be alright, and a lot of optimism from inside the industry that people will pay for high quality audiovisual inventory, I think the threats are very real and very dangerous that disruption in this industry will parallel what happened in the music industry. Live TV such as the World Cup, the Superbowl, news, concerts and other events will always be breadwinners. But the rest? Price wars are going to cause issues, never mind piracy.
Last week Appmarket TV editor Gianluigi Cuccureddu reported on the wild idea of a "premium VOD" at a rate of $30 by Hollywood, and subsequently Time Warner's CEO Jeff Bewkes who's revolt against the inevitable:
"How can you justify renting your first-run TV shows individually for 99 cents an episode and thereby jeopardize the sale of the same shows as a series to branded networks that pay hundreds of millions of dollars and make those shows available to loyal viewers for free?
These new entrants must meet a few criteria: They must provide consumers with a superior TV experience, and they must either support or improve the overall economics that funds and creates the programming in the first place."
Gianluigi also nailed headline of the week with Let's adapt to changing dynamics - Hollywood's answer: $30 Premium VOD.
And no one really knows how this will play out. But many parties are sure that there will be significant disruption and unknown changes will occur.
According to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) traditional content viewing services such as free-to-air and subscription broadcasting are still "the overwhelming backbone for video and television viewing in Australia" but it warns that the barrage of new content channels will increase the fragmentation of audiences, with "unknown ramifications on content owners, distributors, broadcasters and regulators".
While the old school, bigger players in the content industry feel like they are being cannibalized, there is always opportunity in industries that go through disruption. And smaller producers probably looking at this as more as democratization and leveling of the playing field as traditional funding and money circles get splintered and fractured in the future. Audiovisual content distrubution channels are seriously going to go through some changes in the next five years.
On the Lexicon
Many new words are appearing around this convergence space, and it’s quite interesting to see the nomenclature emerge.
Vassilis Seferidis, director of European business development at Samsung Electronics Europe, says Samsung is now calling it Smart TV as opposed to Connected TV. But in a recent meeting Tom McDonnell of Monterosa, I tended to agree on his take, that Connected TV implies that the living room experience of the future is going to be more about connecting people via social TV than more intelligent screens on the wall. Smart TV kind of sounds stupid.
And Connected TV conveys the concept of internet connectivity much better than Smart TV.
Hybrid TV is also a term that is floating around and interactive TV or iTV has floated around for a few years in the IPTV space. And let's not forget WebTV coined by Microsoft a decade ago when they went for the space a little too early, pre social media days. Social TV is undoubted going to stick whether we are talking about two screen or single screen experiences.
Transmedia is so new, that panel members on Tuesday on Transmedia could not really agree what it was – and one panelist said he did not even really know what it was. Is it just new marketing channels? Is it using various technologies to introduce varied entry points into the narrative? Is it sort of like Social TV? Good questions. As this emerging convergence comes into play a new language is being created to deal with it
One Screen Versus Two Screen Social TV – Two Camps
I am the last clinger in the one screen camp between all the contributors and editors at Appmarket.tv and often get razzed about it in our email discussions. But actually, I think it’s going to be a combination of both.
Note I am the only one who owns a Samsung Connected TV, so have some history with the single screen. Essentially the two screeners say that in a group TV experience, the single screen will be a nightmare and will be annoying if there’s only one remote – advanced or not. I agree.
But I also think that with almost three TV’s per household, people are watching more and more of their own TV as more and more genres appear, and tastes grow further apart.
I have to use my kids as an example. I don’t watch Dora. Sponge Bob is not something I can handle after dinner. There is more than one TV in my house. With 24 hour Nick TV and soon-to-come catchup and ondemand TV, I can’t escape it, unless there’s more screens in the house. Eventually they will have their own TV’s I imagine.
Essentially, my feeling is TV is getting more social again, but not necessarily within the family unit, but rather via social networks and via peers. And consumers will be able to interact on their tablets and/or on the big screen in a sidebar.
After seeing the incredible cards that the CE manufacturers are holding in this convergence at IFA in Berlin last month, and some of the highly advanced remotes coming out – as well as a brilliant partner tablet that augments the Samsung TV app experience called Samsung Galaxy Tab, the lines are being blurred.
Looking forward to Day Four of MIPCOM – it’s truly been a brilliant event.