Connect TV goes live: Targets 11m UK homes

Connect TV MD: Phil Walder

Connect TV, a broadband-supplied portfolio of TV channels, launches this weekend to UK viewers with Freeview HD or Smart TV functionality, and are broadband-enabled. Connect TV has embraced MHEG functionality and uses a batch of dedicated channel numbers on the EPG. Some of the TV services are already generating around 200,000 streams a month.

CEO is Phil Walder, who says Connect TV’s solution, and the ‘killer’, is keeping their content onto the TV. “How content gets to the television doesn’t really matter to people. What matters is that the content appears on their television and the options are on an ordinary EPG because that’s where everyone looks. What we have done is to take the MHEG broadcast application and created the interface so that our channel options are shown in the same way on every single device, provided they are MHEG compliant.”

“We don’t have the problem of creating special Apps that only work on a Sony or a Samsung or an LG set. They all carry the same EPG. Perhaps even more importantly, we have our dedicated channel numbers,” adds Walder.

Connect TV currently has about 40 channels available via seven listed EPG channels. Some, like Vision TV’s fascinating compilation of Polish, Greek, Turkish and other language-specific channels, are available behind Channel 110, which takes viewers to Vision’s dedicated portal.

China’s CCTV has three free-to-air channels available behind channel 111, for example. This coming weekend sees the launch of Racing UK.

Walder says another key advantage of Connect’s system is the variable payment methods it allows. “It overcomes the problems with Freeview of limited transmission spectrum, and secondly it overcomes the functionality problems, not just in ease of access but in allowing subscription TV, pay video, pay per view, all those limiting factors have disappeared. We can offer unlimited channel choices plus any number of different business models for those channels and services.

The individual payment options are entirely down to the client and how that client wants to run his service but the old models of the only option being a monthly subscription are now finished. You can now do pay subscription by day or evening or weekend. I can see even more variations being introduced.”

He also believes the market is more than ready for Connect TV’s offerings. Walder says that the industry estimates the number of fully MHEG-compliant Freeview HD receivers or ‘Smart TVs’ in the UK at a minimum of three million, and growing very fast. “By the end of this year, we see that total beginning to approach 11 million (FutureSource says there will be a total of about 14 million Freeview receivers in use, although some will not be MHEG-compliant). Walder says if only 50 per cent of those sets have broadband, “it means our potential market will already be bigger than Virgin Media!”

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