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(dis) connected TV?

Posted by Louise Andrews on 14th December 2010

At a recent media event, Wildfire client Humax announced its new portal for on-demand TV content will arrive on its Freeview boxes in January 2011.

But they’re certainly not the only brand to be talking about ‘connected TV’.

Virgin Media will launch an upgraded video-on-demand service imminently, Playstation is adding ITV and Channel 4 shows to its on-demand line-up and the highly anticipated YouView service promises to combine the best of TV with internet content in 2011.

And I realised that I can’t remember a time when the pace of TV developments has been so rapid.

A TV is for life…

But it hasn’t always been like this. Following a radical move to colour in 1967, the TV sector was more than a little sedate for the next 30 odd years in comparison.

When it came to terrestrial TV, we were roughly on one big event per decade: the arrival of Channel 4 in 1982 (admittedly I wasn’t quite up to doing the conundrum back then), the launch of Five in the 90s, then Freeview in the 00’s.

All the while, my family had its reliable TV in the corner of the lounge, with its lovely wood veneer casing and a cathode ray tube that filled half the room. Arguments weren’t about the remote control, but who could be bothered to get off the sofa to move the volume slider.  And we always had to allow half an hour before going out so Dad could get his head around programming the VHS.

Acronym outburst

But in 2010 the TV sector seems suddenly to be transforming at an incredible rate of knots and the public is facing an onslaught of acronyms to describe the new TV experience: VoD, HD, 3D, IPTV….

We’re only two years into the UK’s digital switchover and already it seems more than a little outdated. VHS is a distant memory, as pausing and recording TV becomes second nature. And it wasn’t long ago that everyone had started ooh-ing and ahh-ing over HD, only for the spotlight to turn on 3D just a year or so later.

Now, it’s all about connected TV and bringing a wealth of content into the living room through catch-up and on-demand services.

It’s an exciting proposition, but I have no doubt there will be a few challenges. A box under the TV makes sense to many of us, but plugging this into a home network? And can the nation’s broadband infrastructure really stand up to the prospect of live streaming?

I await the developments with anticipation. After all, we could be on the cusp of a digital TV revolution, the likes of which we haven’t seen since 1967…

picture credit

Louise Andrews

Deftly switching between business and consumer accounts, the focus for Louise remains the same; how can Wildfire tell clients’ stories in a way that is faithful, relevant and engaging? Her wide technology PR experience makes Louise an agile and versatile Associate Director and fantastic resource for the team, combining the strategic management of PR programmes with a hands-on approach to get under the skin of clients and motivate her teams.

  • I totally agree, Louise, but I’d go a step further. ‘Connected TV’ is fine, but I think we’re headed for ‘Social TV’, possibly by the end of next year given the pace of technological change, as you rightly state. The likes of X Factor, the Election and the World Cup have seen huge volumes of social conversation around them, and we’re reaching a stage where having your TV separate to this debate (ie 2 devices) seems nonsensical. In my view, it’s not long before social streaming reaches our TVs, and I blogged about this recently. See here: http://www.thesocialweb.co.uk/2010/10/why-social-television-is-next-big-thing.html
    Would love to know your thoughts…

  • Appreciate the comment Paul. I agree that social television is on it’s way, but I don’t think it will be anytime soon. As you say, Gen Y is ready for change and wants social features integrated into its viewing experience, but what about the rest of us? I watch the likes of xfactor in front of the TV with Twitter at the ready, watching the real stories unfold in 140 characters. But my other half just doesn’t get it and I’m not sure he’d be overly impressed with a block of live feeds that I’m interested in changing his viewing experience. The thing with the TV is that in many households it’s already social – with the people who are sitting in the same room watching it. Will social television only work for a single person household? Otherwise the social nature exists only on the screen and is taken away from the living room.