I spent an interesting evening last night at the Chinwag Web TV Takeover event listening to an excellent panel discuss the future of IPTV.

The problem this morning is I'm still no clearer on what it means or when it's going to matter.

Following on from some time spent on definitions, the majority of the evening involved a discussion of business models and which one(s) had the most merit.

Who cares?

My view is that the business model will be defined by the customer. Will they pay or won't they? Will they want to download to own (DTO) or simply watch and bin? Will they favour the safety of branded channels or run wild in the IPTV west? These issues we can safely leave in the hands of the viewer.

What the industry must concentrate on is producing unique content designed with this new platform in mind.

It's not just TV on the web - it's much, much more. The potential for unique content is enormous, but the industry has to be careful as by just rebroadcasting content it's going to fail. Viewers will think: "So what? I may as well stick to my existing supplier and use a PVR to timeshift my viewing".

It may even be that the business model doesn't really matter as the winner will be the one that gives the viewers a unique experience that existing broadcasters can't.

I'll leave you with one final thought from one of the panel, Alexander Cameron, managing director of Digital TX Limited:

"Piracy is a business model and currently it's winning."

I couldn't agree more and it will continue to win as long as the industry fails to deliver what the viewers want.

If you want to find out more about IPTV, E-consultancy is running a breakfast training session on September 18th.

Craig Hanna

Published 20 September, 2007 by Craig Hanna

Craig Hanna is a contributor to Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter.

15 more posts from this author

You might be interested in

Comments (3)

Craig Hanna

Craig Hanna, Digital Business Consultant at the-gma.com

Hi Alan

I understand the experimentation point but that was around business models. My point was that there didn't seem to be much discussuion around how the medium offers content creators the opportunity to produce something different rather than just re broadcasting/downloading content that has been shown on a broadcast channel.

Thanks for the offer but we're OK for the 18th. CHris Averil is running the session who has worked on several IPTV projects including BT Vision.

almost 11 years ago

Ashley Friedlein

Ashley Friedlein, Founder, Econsultancy & President, Centaur Marketing at EconsultancyStaff

I wasn't there so can't comment on the evening. Nor have I been following the IPTV scene of late, but I did use to work in TV.

Perhaps my view is simplistic but to me 'IP' is just a delivery mechanic. This is very important to the TV industry as a whole because it could radically shake up the current gatekeepers and controllers of the "airwaves" (free to air, satellite, cable etc.).

Not just the "airwave" controllers but the other gatekeepers to TV content which are, increasingly, the EPGs (Electronic Programming Guides) which Sky dominates.

In the long term I suspect that all content (TV and otherwise) will be IP-delivered (wired and wireless). And, if I had to bet, I reckon that Google will replace the broadcasters and the EPGs. They will become your interface to the world of information and content across all devices. And they'll be able to fund a lot of it via advertising. They're going to be doing it soon on mobile phones, they're already in print advertising, but TV is where the biggest ad dollars are, and they've been busy buying up the world's bandwidth in the name of supporting YouTube (a video site.. any coincidence there). But to me they're just busy securing the content delivery infrastructure of the future.

From a non-industry / TV-watcher's perspective no-one cares whether its "IPTV" or not. People will want to watch what they want to watch where they want to watch it on the device they want to watch it surely? And they'll tolerate different levels of quality and resolution and interactive for different situations. Some people will subscribe, some will pay per view, some will get it free as its ad-funded.

That's easy to say, of course, but will take a lot of figuring out and settling down to reach any kind of stability or maturity.

Either way, if I were a broadcaster I'd be very worried. There's no way you can rely on channel brands in the future. And there'll be little control you'll have of access to the audience. Ultimately it comes back to having great content. Which is why the BBC will be fine even if the licence fee were taken away. But ITV...? I couldn't understand why there were cutting all their in-house production capabilities, but I believe Michael Grade is reversing that.


almost 11 years ago


alan p

@ Craig...was joking re 18th, tho' we too have worked at such places :)

Your point re the medium is well made - we've conducted quite a few interviews on broadband multimedia in recent months and there is a strong sense that it is still a medium trying to find its "voice", as it were. The quest to make TV do what it is best at is also urgent for MSM, as doing the things it isn't good at is causing it all sorts of problems (ditto newspapers)

We've worked with some people doing some amazing stuff with interactive broadband media (can't disclose sadly) but my take on it is that if you think about the BBC's mission to Educate, Inform & Entertain then PC based video is more towards the inform /educate side than lean-back media.

A lot of the plays today are just taking todays content, wrapped with a bit of interactivity and the obligatory social network story, and hoping to - imho - sell out to someone big.

almost 11 years ago

Save or Cancel

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Digital Pulse newsletter. You will receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.