... I want one of these!
Some grabbed soundbites.
"By the end of this year, there will be more broadband subscribers in Europe than digital TV subscribers".
"= DSL and fibre gives telcos the opportunity to move into the on-demand pay TV market
Fast bb networks already in place and growing rapidly
= IP TV provides cost-effective open standards-based way to enter the pay-TV market
= Opportunity for telcos to offer higher value services against backdrop of heightened competition on core telephony and internet markets"
"In terms of the whole on-demand TV universe in Europe, we think it's going to look something like this:
IPTV v cable VoD: by 2008: 7m and 9m respectively."
BBTV demo. Taro Hashimoto presenting.
"BBCable is a digital cable TV service, delivered over the broadband IP network in Japan (Yahoo! Broadband) and a fully fledged VOD. Strong network can deliver a lot of things, and there is no harddrive at the client end. The service softlaunched in March 2003 with 7 channels & 250 VOD titles. Today, 22 channels and 2200+ VOD titles."
"The service was 8Mbit at launch, and today is 45Mbit. The infrastructure is evolving; the average throughput at home is somewhere around 5Mbit."
The average monthly buy-rate is growing. Was 3 titles a month, now 4. Heavy-users are smaller portion but key (highest) revenue generator.
"New architecture runs the game programs on the server, and sends only the images to the television. Play any games, regardless of hardware at home. Play from home or at an internet cafe. Any PC or mobile device can participate. No piracy is possible! G-cluster continues to add games, including brand new multiplayer 3D games. "
4 million Yahoo!BB subscribers in Japan.
Comcast guy up now. Biggest cable company in the US.
50% of VOD-enabled customers average a usage of about 15 times a month. This is triple last year's rate, and double the usage. "It's reducing churn like nobody's business". "TV on your terms".
"Trick play" = pausing and rewinding TV. Love it.
Concurrent and SeaChange servers (they're using both) serving 500 homes apiece throughout the footprint. Metadata informs and constructs the menu. Adding features like - Most Popular In Your Area, and Cross-channel genre aggregation.
Ty from Comcast.
On-demand comes straight off the EPG. If you miss Sopranos, you can buy the previous eps direct. VoIP on cable integrated into the EPG interface, so voice calls can happen over the video. Email direct to your TV screen. Chat over the show. (All coming soon).
Hugh Williams, HomeChoice: "We believe that broadband is the future of television."
Participants listed in the previous post. Following are my notes, not verbatim, but mostly!
(Moderator: Ken Rutkowski, KenRadio Broadcasting.)
Ken: So do we go the guilt route to stop people stealing?
Panel: We can learn from the mistakes of the music industry. Price it right and people won’t steal.
Ken: But iTunes is a failure!
Bruce: if you’re just in the content delivery business and not selling hardware, that model doesn’t work. Apple are shifting iPods on the back of that business.
Taro: I don’t want to print CD-Roms or DVD. If the network becomes powerful and stronger, it can be all held at the network level, dumb client...
Ken: ...but smart customer, right?
Taro: Oh yes. But stream it all. Let the consumer have rights to access only. Our network has no hard drives at the client end, but it's intelligent enough to be able to pause, rewind...
Patrick: As I travel around, I access different networks though. Yes, I use Yahoo BB in Japan, but I also use wifi in the airport ... and over a multiplicity of devices and networks, so we don’t need dumb clients, we need smart clients! Portability of content!
Mitch: Speaking as a consumer we demand that the person we buy our content from package and distribute it [nicely]. I mentioned the iTunes experience because it’s moving devices. Nokia are the same. Nokia are the number one manufacturer of cameras. There will be more user-generated content which will open up a whole new arena of digital rights violations.
Erik: If you send an email to your boss or girlfriend, you don’t want it forwarded to the whole world. User-generated content is more than just the pictures, it’s text and other types of data. We’re taking the approach that our technology should protect any type of data, whether it’s user-generated or not.
[Are they then embracing DRM for the user, or - say - Creative Commons?]
Mitch: Deterrents! If we make it difficult to steal the content, the general masses won’t figure out how to do it, they’ll just go buy it instead.
Patrick: …As long as we make it easy to buy.
Ken: If we know the RIAA is watching, does that prevent us from stealing or taking content for free?
Christopher: I think it helps, but it’s not the only answer. Make the product available, attractively packaged and at affordable prices. But yes, enforcement needs to be there. There’s much more awareness now that free is not always really free, and as legitimate product is made available more and more..
Ken: I wanna talk about music. The industry has failed to educate the parents, where the money is, about legal music distribution. The kids are given allowa nces, but the parents don’t tell them what they can and can’t spend it on.
Patrick: Education certainly plays a role, but being a dyed-in-the-wool capitalist, I like to look at the market. What are the solutions in the market here? Can we make services available to parents, like, say, a digital allowance [pocket money], as a solution to help parents and educate at the same time? It’s an idea we’re trying out and it’s those kinds of solutions we think are going to be important. Ease of use.
Ken: I wanna talk about CinemaNow. So the user downloads and views, and you authenticate, right?
Bruce: Yes. A few years ago we thought, oh we have content here that’s popular in the college market. Let’s offer it there. But they had no interest, they’re just stealing it already. So we went to the 25+ market, and suddenly there’s a market. They’re paying. They get good value, virus free, it’s responsible and reliable. It’s got to be good value, not too expensive.
Ken: Lemme play with iTunes for a minute here. I buy a track for 99c, and I own that track, but I can only take it to 3 devices, and it’s encoded at 128K. If I go out and buy a whole CD, I have complete accessiblity, and at the highest quality. I can copy it as many times I like. I can play it where I like. I have complete digital rights, as compared to iTunes, where I’m not getting nearly as much value.
Mitch: You’re playing for the convenience. You have to rip that CD. It’s an effort. In the music industry there’s too much greed, everyone wants a piece of the revenue pie. We need to generate new revenue streams. We’re making billions of dollars via the distribution of our content, and we need to look hard at how we cannibalise our business, because it’s dangerous, as I said earlier we need to look at protection of revenue.
Patrick: I’ve been experimenting with iTunes. I think 99c is great value. I rebought half my music collection for my portable device because I don’t have time to rip. I want the portability, so what I found is that, certainly with movies, games and tv, we’re seeing a lot of incremental revenue in these arenas. Consumers are looking to consume in different ways and places, and they’ll pay more to get that flexibility.
QUESTIONS FROM AUDIENCE:
Q:You seem to be talking about a perfect world. What if my computer crashes after I’ve used a DRM-enforced install-once-and-once-only license? Can I still use that product?
Erik: If you need to reinstall, you can call a number and if you’ve officially purchased a product, you’ll get a new code. Your service provider will know which copyright purchases you’ve made and what you own.
Q: What’s your priority, to protect the content or make money? DRM that isn’t intrusive to my way of life, please. I can’t get iTunes over here. I want you to make money [laughter. Panel: You do??], but I don’t want to be owned by DRM. There are some companies doing it now where you can download without DRM, so does it have to be necessary?
Patrick: I love this question. At Sony I’m in the business of providing content to consumers and making money off distributing that. Whether I’m selling Sony content or partner content, I need to respect that the problem is frankly the same obstacles that got in the music industry’s way. Clearing rights, clearing guilt payments.. for anyone who has a library of content, this is a huge issue: how to avoid the users finding the content without paying for it. As a content holder, this is an issue that I work with every day. It’s not an easy process. You have to invest time and legal resources to clear these rights. But my answer is: get everything out there, get it all out there! But there are problems we all need to overcome as part of this process.
Ken: OK, you have one minute each to give us a vision 24 months from now: aggregation of digital content in a distributed environment.
Taro: I’m a network believer, the network will grow. Authentication and head end.
Bruce: For CinemaNow I see us expanding. Broadband is growing. For us we just need to get it into the living room and off the PC.
Erik: I think we’ll see (in Europe) large telecomms companies stepping up aggregation of content and programming offerings. We’re seeing it with T-Online and Telecom Italia. They have the billing capabilities and the retlationships. They’ll act as a wholesale engine for others to play with.
Christopher. I see the same. Telecoms providing services. Lots of requests for legit content and services like CinemaNow. It’ll take place in an environment where parents are more aware of filesharing and the legal issue.
Mitch: I think it’ll be similar to where we are now. 2 years is short. Storage is becoming more powerful, so we’ll have more phones in color and capable of doing these things, but in terms of DRM, I think it’ll be ten years, not 2, before we see the impact. Consumers don’t care about DRM, they don’t care if it’s protected or not, they don’t see that stuff. They just want to pay, to own, and if they lose it [the content] they want to be able to get it back.
Patrick: 24 months. OK, US view. We’ll see the emergence of at least one extra digital platform [laughter. Ken: ooh, what are you releasing??]. We’ll see 1000s hours of programming that consumers can download to portable devices. People want to be able to purchase content via download. We’ll start to see real connection in the home. The companies who can clear the rights will be the ones who see their business grow.
Patrick got besieged, but we hung around and managed to invite him to lunch.
Taro Hashimoto Softbank Broadmedia
BBCableTV: broadband TV with VOD.
Bruce Eisen. Streamcast Networks/ Cinemanow. (Been using Msoft DRM for 5 years now)
Eric Huggers, Microsoft Europe
Christopher Marcich, Motion Picture Association.
“DRM is about protection of revenue and getting paid for our content.”
Sony Pictures Digital Networks
Some notes, quotes and paraphrases:
IPTV: We believe it offers advantages over the way TV is distributed today. We believe there is more benefit for consumers: [snip] because it’s IP network it’s two-way network. IPTV supports self-provisioning, easy subsciptions, bill presentment, photosharing, etc. It incorporates DRM. It's platform (pc, tv, mobile device) portable. The EPG can be described by the content distributor, with custom graphics, channel naming, etc. Integration of Flash, HTML, TV tuner, all seamless. Windows Media 9 quality is stunning.
= Offer on-demand television services to broadband/wireless users
..we are approaching 20m bb users in europe.
= Use broadcast networks to push television services to storage in the home
..turn the threat of PVR into an opportunity
= Embrace high-definition as a great value add for your business
= Partners are key to all of this!
“Calling you broadcasters: You can push out to lots of Media Centres. Don’t let the PVR become a threat to you, you can program DRM-protected, copyright-protected content to those drives. If the users consume it, they will then pay for it.”
Q: We heard that Swisscom is parterning with you. What extent will the IPTV platform complement the MHP platform and other things?
A: We believe in open programmable platforms and MHP is one way to go. We’re working with the industry to define an interteroperable way forward. We’re seriously studying MHP and how and if we can support it.
Q: How will you support ads?
A: We're business model agnostic. [Laughter]. No you can laugh, but we are. If you have ads, we will support that. If you have ads, you can target people more precisely using the computer's smarts. We think -the platform is perfectly suited for paid-for services; advertising-sponsored or paid-for can all be supported. Is this the death of the 30s ad slot? Advertisers and distributors are looking at different ways to advertise, not just tradiional ads, but opportunities like product placement and sponsorship.
Q: Is Windows Media going to be a problem now that in Europe it is being taken out of Windows??
A: I can’t talk about that here.
We were slightly late for the opening keynote from Patrick Kennedy, Exec VP Sony Pictures Digital Networks, which is a shame because he was clearly in full corker swing. Some notes:
"Integrated entertainment and communication applications are possibly the New Content in the new media environment, but otherwise it's New Media, Old Content so far."
Q from the audience: "2m net-connected PS2s: what are Sony's plans to put content down the pipe into that machine? I mean, you kinda own that network, that pipe, those consumers..." A:
"It's very exciting and over the next year we'll be announcing plans for that network; we are looking to reach the largest number of consumers on platforms that are relevant to those consumers' lifestyles. We talk to their consumers a lot, and the consumers really want to be able to download, own and manage collectively content of their choice. Consumers are more and more reaching for purchase of content."
My emphases there. We've been talking recently about the emergence of subnets: SonyNet, the darknet, KidNet, etc. Also, collective consumption .. social scheduling. iMP's next step must be to integrate social networking, social scheduling* and content swapping.
Q: Slightly garbled 3-in-1 payment & DRM based question that I couldn't transcribe.
The consumer will choose which model they want, transactional-based or subscription service or a combination. We’ll see many of those, rental, sellthru and subscription, and the market will grow. Will this be easy to use? To download, port to devices, be seamless. It’s a really big question. Consumers want choices. There’s no easy answer and one we spend a lot of time working through. With regards to gateways: the settop boxes, the computer and the gaming machine are all options to the consumer, the consumer will ask, how transparent is this platform to me? I want convenience and choice, I want to control my own experience.
Sony first.. up next, Microsoft.
* Social scheduling: an idea I've been kicking around for a while, and that I take to mean simple systems of organising media consumption (originally linear, like television or radio channels) using a shared scheduler. So, say, simple drag-and-drop timelines, where users can string together downloaded clips, video, audio, into group-created consumption schedules, and then listen/watch together (shared play/pause buttons, etc). The phrase is used elsewhere, and sometimes with different meaning...