Will Youview and IPTV change the face of TV Broadcasting


Youview, and the evolution of Internet Protocol TV (IPTV), are set to have a major impact on the UK broadcasting industry. Youview is the latest evolution of Freeview and Freesat, the Set Top Boxes (STB) that give access to additional channels without a monthly subscription. Freeview gives viewers access to terrestrial broadcasts, while Freesat enables viewers to watch 1000+ free to air channels available from the Astra satellite network. Freeview & Freesat STB specifications also include enough processing and graphics power to deliver full HD channels.
What’s New in Youview
The new Youview specification adds significant new innovations to these specifications and STB platforms. By adding disk storage within the unit, it enables programs to be recorded for later viewing, providing the viewer with the possibility of watching one channel while recording others, similar to Sky+ services. The number of recordable channels is limited perhaps by the number of tuners in the STB unit.
However this is not the most exciting aspect for the industry! Perhaps the most important addition is the addition of IPTV technology within the Youview STB that allows TV to be delivered via a viewer’s broadband connection.
Catching Up
Why is it important? Well, IPTV is already here for some of us and services like the BBC iPlayer have changed the viewing profile of those viewers with Connected Home environments. In the Connected Home, TV sets are attached to a PC, media centre or have internet player widgets built in. You will also find wireless access, cheap internet phone calls (VoIP) and environmental controls. All this is delivered down the broadband line. The iPlayer offers viewers ability to watch programs they missed by streaming programs any time they choose. This ‘catch up’ TV service is also offered by ITV, Channel 4 and Five. For commercial channels this service is provided in exchange for the viewer enduring the untargeted advertising which for many is a ‘turn off’ to this type of service.
Adverts driving you crazy? Not anymore!
IPTV allows greater innovation in advertising technology. The viewer can give permission for their identity information to be gained from their Internet Service Provider (ISP) or perhaps in the future, their social network site, which the broadcaster can then use to deliver targeted ads. Fewer ads targeted to the viewers particular geography, demographic and personal interests allow the viewer to avoid untargeted low value advertising and they are therefore less likely to switch channels and more likely to buy products. Personally I am more likely to buy a product from 30 seconds of adverts targeted to match my interests, than 3 minutes of adverts for chocolate bars, bank accounts and instant caffeinated beverages!
Want Last Wednesdays Program Schedule? OK!
The Youview STB specification also allows for electronic program guides to be scrolled forward and backward in time. When scrolled back, the STB unit would link to the appropriate website address to play recorded versions of the missed programs. This seamless integration makes finding the program you missed last Wednesday just as easy for every channel. It’s also more intuitive for the viewer to learn how to operate the service. You no longer have to be an IT expert!
Watch that blockbuster - anytime!
Another key feature of IPTV is Video on Demand (VoD) which allows viewers to watch content from various sources outside of the traditional broadcast channels, such as Hollywood studios. The viewer can access a library of films and these films can be watched at any time whenever they are requested. Content owners want to maximise the revenue from their content but do not want to allow customers to be able to bypass their control of viewing (pirating), in order to ensure that they can recover the cost of production. Major reductions in the cost of production have stimulated the evolution of more content, but often both the technical and creative artistic quality has suffered. Now the discerning viewer can enjoy the best of TV as and when they want and the content owner can expect to keep their content safer from piracy. IPTV technology allows Digital Rights Management (DRM) to be embedded into Video on Demand, a form of electronic watermarking and security that makes piracy very difficult.
Trickle to torrent!
But what if a viewers broadband connection is not up to scratch? Currently HD streams take between 5 and 10 Mbit/s to deliver and much of the UK outside of major cities is offered a pedestrian 2 Mbit/s or less. However these viewers are not excluded, as the latest ‘trickle’ download technologies that IPTV can make use of allow a viewer to download an HD show over several hours ready for viewing later. As the new BT Infinity and Virgin Media services (high speed fibre internet access) becomes available, live streaming of HDTV will also become possible with the new fibre services offering speeds around 100 MBit/s.
Skills are Crucial
To take commercial advantage of this new paradigm, and continue to stay competitive in the new IPTV world, content producers, broadcasters, telecoms network operators, hardware & software vendors need to understand how it all works. The ability of companies to take advantage of IPTV and to increase profitability depends on how their workforce is able to engineer and sell the technology & services where the new opportunities lie. The industry is changing so fast that getting up to speed quickly is the only way to ride the wave and share some of the revenue being generated. Producers of new services that get to market first will generally make the most money!
Keep our Industry Great
The British Video Industry has always been at the leading edge of global TV from its beginnings in the 1930s up to the present day. If we can learn the new skills fast enough then we can extend our lead into the future.

Tags: yuoview | iss051 | iptv | freeview | stb platform | iplayer | vod | perpetual solutions | N/A
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