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Towards Smart TV

If this is Thursday, I must be in Belgium... I've made the (surprisingly lengthy) trip from Hamburg to Leuven near Brussels for the EuroITV (as in, interactive television) conference. On the face of it, this may seem only peripherally connected to my own research interests, but in my paper I'll be continuing to explore the theme of user-led disruptions to the conventional television model which I addressed in my MIA article and the presentation at the Australasian Media & Broadcasting Congress last year.

We start with a keynote by Rich Ezekiel, Director of Yahoo! Connected TV. He begins by outlining Yahoo!'s successful experiments with TV widgets. This responds to changed user expectations for television, which are driven not least also by phenomena such as increasingly powerful DVRs, video on demand, growing Internet connectivity in TVs, a proliferation of TV channels (whose content is no longer identified through electronic programme guides, but through a search logic), and substantial changes to the economics of content.

The User-Led Disruption: Self-(Re)broadcasting at and Elsewhere (EuroITV 2009)

The User-Led Disruption: Self-(Re)broadcasting at and Elsewhere

Axel Bruns

  • 4 June 2009 - EuroITV, Leuven, Belgium

The rise of videosharing and self-(re)broadcasting Web services is posing new threats to a television industry already struggling with the impact of filesharing networks. This paper outlines these threats, focussing especially on the DIY re-broadcasting of live sports using Websites such as and a range of streaming media networks built on peer-to-peer filesharing technology.

The European Regulatory Environment for Digital Broadcasting

The post-lunch session at COST298 kicks off with Lilia Raycheva, who notes that TV is still the most significant source of nformation in European households; they view an average of 3 hours per day, and by 2010 there will be some 120 HDTV channels. Analogue switchoff is supposed to be complete by 2012, but a number of European countries are lagging behind and may not meet that deadline. There is also a question whether current content regulations (diversity, local programming, etc.) will be able to be sustained in the new DTV environment.

Developments in Video Platforms

The next next09 panel is with Jeremy Allaire from Brightcove and Axel Schmiegelow from Sevenload - online video hosting companies in the US and Germany. Brightcove licences its video platform to a variety of partners; it now operates online video for some hundreds of media companies. Increasingly, this is used for syndicating and distributing content through a variety of social media Websites. Sevenload, by contrast, brings together communities and the content they are interested in, significantly also including user-generated content. They monetise for the content providers by running advertising on the site. (And the two companies have just entered a commercial partnership.)

Public Broadcasting in the Network Age

The next session here at next09 is a panel on the future of public broadcasting organisations with Ian Forrester from the BBC and Robert Amlung from the ZDF, under the theme of open media. Both are clearly aware of the increasing involvement of users in media content creation and distribution, and aim to tap more into this; the ZDF is aiming especially to make redistribution legal by employing appropriate content licencings schemes (e.g. Creative Commons) and offering a suite of RSS feeds for its content. It is becoming more and more important to make content available to users (who, as licence or as tax payers, have already paid for it).

Hello TiVo - Goodbye TiVo?

I've spent some time last year (and I hope to do more of it in 2009) talking and writing about the increasing challenge to traditional television which the growing online video sector poses - both in terms of the original content available from the likes of YouTube and and in terms of the shared and re-broadcast television content available from and various bittorrent networks.

My argument in that context was that such online services are gradually becoming more convenient than television itself, even where it's enhanced through VCRs, DVRs, TiVos, iPod Videos and other time- and space-shifting devices. Well, as it turns out, younger television audiences at least in the US agree with me. The Wall Street Journal reports that a new study by Solutions Research Group found that

Disruption 2.0: Broadcast vs. Social Media (AM&BC 2008)

Disruption 2.0: Broadcast vs. Social Media

Axel Bruns

"FASTRACKED FROM THE US." The words appear every day on our television screens. But apart from the embarrassing misspelling, what do they tell us?

After a Lengthy Silence...

Never go on holidays... Looks like a few days into my holiday on the Sunshine Coast, one of the electrical storms sweeping through Brisbane these days knocked out the server, even in spite of various forms of surge protection. Ah well - a motherboard replacement and some serious fiddling with Linux later (massive thanks to Nic Suzor for pointing me to the tip that enabled my successful necromancy), here we are again.

And while we're here, I might as well note that the audio and Powerpoint from my Interactive Minds presentation on 27 November are now online. I'm afraid the audio quality is, shall we say, 'for collectors only', but here it is, for what it's worth. This end-of-year IM event aimed to highlight trends in 2008 and predictions for 2009, and regular readers of this blog will recognise a few of my recurring obsessions. Many thanks to Jen Storey for the invite.

Futures for Advertising on Digital TV Platforms

Up next at the Australasian Media & Broadcasting Congress is Robert Leach, Head of MCn Connect, whose interest is in digital television - and he begins by saying that interactive TV is now here; he finds it impossible to watch TV news without being able to 'press the red button' and get the latest news headlines. (Hmmm... Most Australians appear to use the Internet for this, rather than pay-TV?) Digital TV is changing rapidly. Does this mean the death of TV and TV advertising?

No, says Robert - we are watching as much TV as we ever have done, even though usage of other devices is also growing. Where the major growth area lies is digital video in its various forms. In the digital environment, devices have multiplied, but media are converging; the challenge for marketers and advertisers is to involve and engage audiences in video content. Where the Clinton campaign slogan in 1992 was "it's the economy, stupid", today the slogan for advertisers should be "it's the content, stupid" - if broadcasting or other media forms are declining, this is not the fault of technology, but of the content being broadcast. Great content will continue to attract a mass audience - but that audience may exist across a wide variety of devices from conventional televisions to online and mobile devices, scattered across time and space.


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