It’s time for IP&TV World Forum once again and hybrid solutions will be to the fore. The hybrid nature of the sector is reflected in the name of the event, shifting subtly from IPTV to IP&TV, reflecting the fact IP is now part of the normal scenery of the TV landscape and not a feature restricted to managed fixed networks
If and when everyone in a given market is hooked up to super-fast pipes then TV, in all its forms, will probably be delivered from headend to home over IP. But even in the most developed markets ubiquity of ‘limitless’ connectivity is still a long way off and so ‘hybridity’ will be the norm for a long time to come
In the hybrid mix – and that mix can include all kinds of broadcast and all kinds of IP connection – our contributors agree that what is important is the provision of good services. A consensus emerges that this means high quality reception, rapid channel change, good VoD availability, clear and useful EPG and search functions and the availability of portability, inside and outside the home. So long as they don’t see the join, how these are provided matters not to the viewer
Beyond this basic menu, the richness and volume of ‘interactive services’ relies on the IP capacity, and the motivation and ability of the provider to include them. This is likely to have as much to do with their business model as their technical ability
While there is considerable plurality in the means by which content reaches the consumer, the perceived lack of plurality of content providers continues to concern many. In the UK, focus has been on Sky, initially because of its dominant position, (talk of blocking the News Corp takeover just on antitrust grounds seems a long time ago doesn’t it?), then on ‘fit and proper person’ grounds following the various criminal behaviours at News’ newspapers
This has overshadowed the wider debate about the power being concentrated in the hands of the few broadcaster mega-producers and, even more, the rights holders to the events (mainly sporting) that make the weather in broadcasting
Theories that fragmentation and user generated content would erode the economics of expensive production have proved way off the mark. National broadcaster linear TV remains strong, particularly with Marquee appointment shows, TV drama is bigger and better than ever, and the barrel of money over which major rights holders prostrate pay broadcasters just gets bigger and bigger.