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July 11, 2010

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Q&A with Videonet’s John Moulding on the Whole Home Video Debate, Part 2 of 2

 

Here is the second portion of our interview with Editor John Moulding who recently completed the “Supporting the ‘any screen, anywhere’ video consumer,” report now available on Videonet. We tackle the drivers behind whole home video, current definitions of "cloud-based TV" and the technical challenges that operators still need to overcome to meet consumers' expectations. You can find the first interview here.  Do you feel that developing new revenue streams is the main issue driving operators to offer whole home video services?   JM: The key requirement is to protect the revenue streams they already have. We are about to enter a very disruptive period in television because convergence is finally happening and the wall between Internet entertainment and television entertainment is starting to crumble. Pay TV operators have to keep their younger audiences fully engaged or risk losing them, and that means giving them the content they want, when they want it and where they want it. For their customer base as a whole, surely the best way to counter the threat of disintermediation from OTT providers is for Pay TV operators to play to their strengths and deliver their great, compelling broadcast and on-demand services (including premium sports and the best kids and nature channels) on every television. If your teenage child can’t watch that content in their bedroom then they are probably watching a terrestrial free-to-air service instead, going to the web with their PC or playing on a games console. I suppose they might do some homework if things get really bad! The key is to keep them ‘on platform.’ There is evidence that people will pay for whole home video services like multiroom DVR. It is not so clear that people will pay extra to watch their Pay TV services on their PC and it seems to be generally accepted that ‘TV Everywhere’ type services will wrap the online viewing into a bundle with the television subscription. But we spoke to one analyst in the report - Jayant Dasari at Parks Associates – who felt operators could eventually monetize this additional distribution. The example he gave was allowing a customer to watch online free with two devices but charging for access onto a third device. What is the current definition of “cloud-based” TV services?

JM: It is too early for there to be a defacto standard definition for cloud-based TV. Some commentators refer to the cloud as any network storage and therefore talk about a managed operator cloud (like the headend used to deliver a managed telco IPTV service) and about an unmanaged cloud, which is the Internet.  The most accepted definition of ‘cloud TV’ today, based on our research, equates it to Internet delivered television services (which could be on-demand or linear). So it means services that harness OTT video infrastructure and protocols. People are also starting to differentiate the unmanaged Internet from the managed Internet because potentially TV service providers can become CDNs and start providing themselves with some QoS guarantees between the web video servers and the consumer. But that all falls into ‘cloud-based TV’.   What have you found to be the most significant recent technological developments in whole home video? What are the tough technical challenges that operators still need to overcome to support a satisfactory experience? JM: We can’t ignore the impact that DLNA seems to be having. Almost anyone you talk to involved in customer premise equipment has this name on their lips. Consumers want their Pay TV services in multiple rooms, the Pay TV industry is looking for ways to achieve this at prices that appeal to the mass-market and there is an increasing emphasis on media gateways feeding thin clients. DLNA can enable different devices to work together, whether they are coming from the Pay TV or the retail CE world. The reliability of the physical home network itself is crucial. Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) seems to be making strong progress with multiroom services and they claim this is because of their superior reliability compared to wireless or home power cable solutions. Once you start offering whole home video solutions, the Pay TV operator has to take responsibility for that video network so Quality of Service (QoS) is crucial. Some people think media gateways, like a DVR, have an important role to play in managing resources and assuring the customer experience across the home network. You can view the “Supporting the ‘any screen, anywhere’ video consumer,” report in its entirety on the Videonet site.

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