02.14.2006 01:32 PM
Expert forecasts IPTV universe with infinite channels, viewer interactivity

Tony Kern opened some eyes at the just-concluded Competitive Technology Summit in Secaucus, NJ, when he forecasted a television landscape with a limitless number of channels.

The next generation of IPTV deployment also will introduce new methods of interactivity that allow viewers to navigate to details about how to buy the goods shown in the movie or program they are watching, said Kern, Deputy Managing Partner of Deloitte’s Technology Media & Telecommunications based in New York and Los Angeles.

Following his panel discussion at the Broadcast Engineering and Broadcasting & Cable magazine-sponsored summit, IPTV Update caught up with Kern to learn more.

IPTV Update: You’ve spoken of IPTV bringing about a seemingly limitless number of channels. That doesn’t seem to be the direction today. Could you explain where you believe the IPTV market is today and where you think it’s headed?

Tony Kern: I think right now most IPTV systems are set up to emulate tree and branch cable TV systems for lot of reasons. The way programming deals are structured, there’s now not flexibility around a la carte delivery and honestly, the companies working on IPTV don’t have a lot of experience in this area, and they are trying to advance video as fast as they can.

The really intriguing idea of IPTV is the possibility of an infinite number of channels to an infinite universe of users. Under this scenario, we may be seeing a Procter & Gamble Channel with all Procter & Gamble products. IPTV is headed toward becoming a multiple independent universe of product and program offerings.

IPTVU: Won’t the fact that it will be infinite make it tough for viewers to find the exact program they want?

TK: At that stage navigation becomes a serious issue. Back in the ‘60s, we went to 12 and 24 channels on cable. Navigation was thought to be an issue back then and now looking back it seems pretty amusing. This becomes a very serious problem in a thousand-channel universe.

Once IPTV is up and running in this infinite channel universe, the content and program opportunities will reveal themselves, and the deals will be cut to allow viewers access to the FOX or Turner movie libraries or Time Warner’s product portfolio. That is the way IPTV will play out ultimately.

IPTVU: It doesn’t seem like the traditional advertising model of buying a spot could sustain this infinite universe. After all, an infinite universe probably will mean an infinite splintering of audience.

TK: The other exciting thing IPTV offers is interactivity. It will allow marketers to target specific audiences with hot spots to request more information about a product or a person in a program — for instance on how to buy the outfit Angelina Jolie was wearing in the film in “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.”

Hot spotting opens up a whole new revenue stream. It also lends itself to polling and search functions, and that is the future of IPTV.

IPTVU: Macromedia, before its acquisition by Adobe, began offering this sort of hot spotting with Flash. Is that the sort of thing you envision for the future of IPTV?

TK: There is clearly experimenting with it that’s going on today. The future of that world is choice and a consumer pull rather than the current push model. Rather than having content pushed at you, you will pull the content you desire.

How does IPTV impact branding, advertising and marketing? How would “Survivor” survive in a world where it is not pushed? It will require much more marketing push so people know where to get it and see it.

IPTVU: You sound optimistic about the future of IPTV.

TK: I think IPTV is the future of video distribution and the future of interactive television. It solves many of the problems around consumer choice, distribution and advertising. IPTV opens up some privacy concerns depending on the level of secure interactivity, but once the privacy issues are solved, IPTV opens up the whole world of opportunity and choice. The advertising support structure of legacy broadcasting comes full circle when this new distribution architecture is finally rolled out.

Tell us what you think!

IPTVU invites response from our readers. Please submit your comments to editor@broadcastengineering.com. We’ll follow up with your comments in an upcoming issue.

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