Not all things are exactly what they seem...Looking deeper into the requirements, market realities and politics of Hybrid TV solutions.
1. Canvas is supposed to solve a BBC "business issue" which is the exhorbitant cost associated with Re-Purposing and Re-authoring of Content to deliver over the Internet…Just look at the technology (we have to) and there lies the issue – which of the 14 Codecs, which of the multiple DRM do you select is it Video or Video and Interactivity - if the latter which middleware…Can you truly Standardise OTT Video delivery which is really just another VOD catalogue. The BBC is supposed to deliver FTA Content not govern what technology the wider world should use because it suits their needs. But they have a right to fix their business issues. However it is purely self centered it is Not an industry Standard if it is for the UK only. The DVB Consortium has been successfully doing Standards that fix these kind of issues as have many other Specification and Standards’ Forums in the various TV regions of the world…However this problem of standardising OTT is probably far too complex for anyone to solve considering the technology mix available. Revenue increase and protection is important to the TV business and this OTT panic has us all blogging. We should be avoiding the Technology discussion at this point in the game to look at business models and how the industry can actually create a productive and worthwhile TV Business for us all.
2. HbbTV is just another technology solution amongst many looking at a different philosophy and not strictly related to standardising OTT video: It is a renegade intiative to allow for the creation of a PAN EUROPEAN RETAIL Television ... as that creature cannot be achieved in the present fragmented world of EMEA TV technologies. So this particular flavour is being built from the Internet Browser backwards (as Internet is considered to be the common part to all of Europe). There are two HbbTV camps: The Broadcasters who believe the Broadband part of the acronym is their 2nd Pipe to the TV (or STB) for them to exploit. However the 2nd Camp recently unmasked are the TV retailers: A CE manufacturer and supporter of HbbTV told the Spanish Broadcasters publicly (in my presence) that they would have to compete with them for content? The CE-Manufactures are all building web-portals and of course have to put DTT Tuners in the TV (to satisfy the Broadcasters Broadcast part of the Acronym). In HbbTV as the connection to the Broadband is not mandatory the reality is that this is just another DTT Broadcast Middleware which is old hat...
In a real-world situation can you watch French Broadcaster OTT content on an HbbTV enabled TV which is sitting in Germany? No.! OTT Broadcaster content is GEO-Locked so the only content will be any FREE or PIRATED OTT content available on the Internet and that is what the Broadcasters and Pay TV Operators do not want to see happen. So really this is a half baked technical solution (not a standard at all) for individual Digital Island business issues. Who is protecting whose revenues here?
This particular initiative looks like someone trying to get a rubber stamp from a standards body to justify the European Commissioner's demand of Standard based solutions only for the DTT Market...It also has 2 camps fighting for the same eyeballs and the family wallet.
3. TV Everywhere: Another technology answer for Cable that does not solve the BUSINESS issue of Free OTT Content on the Broadband Pipe. It is an attempt to protect Cable TV Revenues....at least that is unambiguous!
All will have technical merit but not one of them will solve the OTT “Free Content” tsunami and this problem may rage on until there is no decent free content left worth looking at (no money garnered to pay to have it created). Then of course there are still the Public Service Broadcasters taking Mandatory License Fees to dictate what and where and how we watch their brand of Content. So PSB’s and OTA/OTT might be relevant in the long term…but as Rights Holders and other stakeholders look at the loss of revenue, legislation and regulatory issues will perhaps emerge to give some form of a reality check. Then of course metering of OTT may also provide a damper in the rush to the internet as the delivery mechanism of choice.
Oh what a tangled web we have woven in the Digital TV Market