Cutbacks at BBC forces iPlayer TV App Dev Slowdown and New Content Strategy for iPlayer

written by: Richard Kastelein

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It looks like iPlayer TV App won't be rolling out to as many Connected TVs according to New Teevee - since the BBC Trust has figured out that it's cost prohibitive to push resources in trying to get a TV App on the multitude of platforms CE manufacturers are creating because they can't or won't work together on a single standard. Unless they pay for the development themselves. This flies in the face of their recent announcement that they were going 'global' with iPlayer overseas with their VOD service for Expat Brits in mind.

According to GigaOM Pro analyst Michael Wolf, there are now at least 10 different platforms for building smart TV applications, many of which have their own requirements for video formats and delivery mechanisms. That means that publishers who wish to feed their online videos directly to consumer TVs, Blu-ray players and other devices frequently have to develop build app interfaces for multiple platforms.

The best example of a video publisher fighting TV application fragmentation is Netflix, which has spent the last several years building custom applications to reach a multitude of consumer electronics devices. Netflix is now on more than 250 different devices, including TVs, Blu-ray players, game consoles and mobile phones, but it wasn’t easy.

Cash strapped, the BBC is having to find ways to chop an extra £400m out of their planned £1 billion budget cuts (cuts will rise from 16% to 20% as of today) already and the current tangle of work involved in trying to build multiple apps for multiple CE manufacturers seems to have put them off of devoting resources to the evolving Connected TV space.

On top of that according to the Financial Times, The BBC Trust suggested on Wednesday that the BBC’s online video should only be syndicated to other TV platform operators through the iPlayer only, which ignited other players in industry who quickly condemned the move.

Aggregators and providers of internet-TV equipment have long wished that the BBC would make its shows available individually, without forcing them to bundle them with its iPlayer service and interface, in spite of its popularity with viewers.

... “To put the consumer first, the cheapest and easiest option would perhaps be to remove the iPlayer ‘wrapper’ and allow third party service providers to offer syndicated BBC content as part of their service, as we believe was intended when on demand services were approved through the public value test.” said Eddie Abrams, chief executive of IP Vision.

Recently - part of an editorial I wrote included some thoughts on the lack of standardization of the industry.

A few years ago I worked on an XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) project in the financial industry - which is a freely available, market-driven, open, and global standard for exchanging business information and is defined by metadata set out in XBRL taxonomies. It would be brilliant to see a similar industry-wide standard for meta data in the TV industry.That would mean that triggering would be standardized, open and available to third party developers to help disseminate the programming, the brands, the gaming mechanics and the social aspects of future TV much more successfully.

But I am not holding my breath as it seems the industry is nowhere near consolidation with a dozen TV App platforms and people screaming from all directions towards the middle in the emerging convergence.

And another piece took a closer look at the problems with so many standards.

....Further complicating the picture - Yahoo Apps are available on the Samsung TVs. Unless it's a Samsung that has Google TV - then you would likely not get Hulu, Disney, Comcast, ESPN, Time Warner Cable, ABC, CBS, HSN, and Showtime, most likely. Most of the broadcasters have been blocking Google TV. Google is too big - and a bit scary - they are protecting their inventory from being made easily available via the Google TV web browser. Unless they can make a deal.

It's getting complicated? Wait... there's more.

With a Google TV you will get full web browsing on the Internet.

If you have an older Samsung Smart TV (without Google TV) you can't, right now, browse the Internet as it's all App based. However, PC World reports that the new Smart Hub platform released by Samsung TV will allow web browsing... which won't make ABC, CBS, HSN, Showtime, Hulu, Comcast, Time Warner Cable or Disney very happy as online video will become accessible... like Google TV. Unless Samsung can or will block Internet video from their browser.

Confused? So am I. And I have been covering this space for some time.

The industry has four weeks to respond to the consultation before the trust makes its final decision.

 

 

 

About the Author

Richard Kastelein
Founder of The Hackfest, publisher of TV App Market and global expert on Media & TV innovation, Kastelein is an award winning publisher and futurist. He has guest lectured at MIT Media Lab, University of Cologne, sat on media convergence panel at 2nd EU Digital Assembly in Brussels, and worked with broadcasters such as the BBC, NPO, RTL (DE and NL), Eurosport, NBCU, C4, ITV, Seven Network and others on media convergence strategy - Social TV, OTT, DLNA and 2nd Screen etc.

He is a Fellow of the UK Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and UK Royal Television Society (RTS) member.

Kastelein has spoken (& speaking) on the future of media & TV in Amsterdam, Belfast, Berlin, Brussels, Brighton, Copenhagen, Cannes, Cologne, Curacao, Frankfurt, Hollywood, Hilversum, Geneva, Groningen (TEDx), Kuala Lumpur, London, Las Vegas, Leipzig, Madrid, Melbourne, NYC, Rio, Sheffield, San Francisco, San Jose, Sydney, Tallinn, Vienna, Zurich...

He's been on advisory boards of TEDx Istanbul, SMWF UK, Apps World, and judged & AIB awards, Social TV Awards Hollywood, TV Connect & IPTV Awards.

A versatilist & autodidact, his leadership ability, divergent and synthetic thinking skills evolved from sailing the world 24000 miles+ offshore in his 20′s on sailboats under 12m.

He spent 10 years in the Caribbean media & boating industry as a professional sailor before returning to Europe, to Holland.

A Creative Technologist and Canadian (Dutch/Irish/English/Metis) his career began in the Canadian Native Press and is now a columnist for The Association for International Broadcasting and writes for Wired, The Guardian & Virgin. His writings have been translated into Polish, German and French. 

One of Kastelein's TV formats was optioned by Sony Pictures Television in 2012. 

Currently involved in a number of startups including publishing TV App Market online, The Hackfest and Tripsearch TV. As CSO for Worldticketshop he helped build a $100m company.

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