A Look at IPTV, Digital Signage and Consumer Technologies

Visitors to this year’s IBC convention at the RAI Centre can expect a conference programme packed with a wide variety of themes. In the first two days alone, September 11 and 12, there should be something to please all delegates with sessions ranging from IPTV to building a facility in the digital age.

Adding to the Amsterdam show’s IPTV Zone, this year a whole day of sessions are dedicated to this growing medium. In the last two years companies such as Bablegum, BT Vision, Joost and Tiscali TV, to name but a few, have all launched IPTV and online TV services, while the popularity of user-generated video on sites such as You Tube has exploded.

Broadcasters also have started to make their programme archives available online through VoD, with services such as the BBC’s iPlayer proving a hit with viewers. At the same time, gaming consoles, iPods and mobile phones are being used to watch TV — with Gallic broadcaster Canal Plus even striking a deal with Sony Computer Entertainment to offer a VoD service on its PSP games console.

With all these developments in mind, Thursday’s conference sessions on IPTV are designed to examine the commercial, creative and technical issues surrounding this platform, as well the impact that these services are likely to have on viewers. A two-part in-depth tutorial on “Quality issues in IPTV”, looks at the delivery mechanisms, quality requirements and standards involved in this new medium.

“Content over the web”, meanwhile, looks at the devices involved in delivering these new services. How are games consoles used to access TV content, for example, and what is the best way to access user-generated content?

Thursday’s theme programme concludes with a look at IPTV’s immediate future prospects. “The future outlook for content over the Web” examines how ISPs, operators and content owners are likely to make a return on their investment. The session also looks at digital-rights management issues and repurposing content for mobile devices.

New for IBC2008 is a zone dedicated to digital signage and one of Friday’s key sessions during the conferences looks at the use of IP-networked flat screens to distribute advertising content into public spaces.

With more consumers on the move, out-of-home advertising is an emerging channel for broadcast-style ads and the “Digital Signage” session forms part of IBC’s free-admission Business Briefings strand.

Recent predictions are expecting to see the number of digital signage sites grow from 210,000 in 2007 to 850,000 by 2010, attracting advertising revenues of around $2.7 billion. The session asks vendors and systems integrators whether they are ready to cater to this burgeoning sector of the market.

It’s a medium that also allows for a much greater level of engagement with consumers. According to Reuters, which operates the largest broadcast digital display system in the world in New York’s Times Square, advertisers are increasingly making use of interactive marketing opportunities where consumers can participate in campaigns by submitting photos online, which can then be featured on the sign.

Miya Knight, editor of Retail Technology will be attending the all-new Digital Signage Zone and chairing the opening panel. She is expected to discuss where the opportunities lie in deploying digital signage and which technologies and applications are delivering tangible benefit to retailers and other organisations including the travel, hospitality and entertainment industries.

The session allows system integrators and manufacturers to determine the opportunity offered by this expanding market and key players such as Sony, Panasonic, Harris, Matrox, Future Software: DigiSHOW, Thomson and Kinoton also will be attending the zone.

Friday’s conference theme is set to examine today’s product environment and identify key drivers for change. Constructing a facility now starts with a business analysis, leaving technology, engineering and operations to come later. Considerations for computers, networks and telco connectivity change the rules too. Tracking content, rights and billing introduces a new vocabulary. For broadcast engineers what have been the hardest things to learn about devising and operating an IT-centric facility? In a session entitled “Technology and engineering — master or slave?” a panel of experts will discuss and debate these issues.

The product environment is influenced by regulation — or better still, consensus. Standards smooth the way and accelerate introduction of technology, but the road to harmonisation can be rocky. What are the catalysts for consensus? This year’s conference keynote speaker is set to bring special insight into these themes.

The product environment also will be explored from a global perspective, including the influences of rapidly expanding economies of India and China. Delegates can hear and debate the media landscape and marketplace in these two nations in two “rapidly expanding economy”: sessions.

Each has seen the growth of huge media economies via widely distributed consumer technologies and rapidly growing internal media consumption. The Olympics, Bollywood and expanding broadcast services create opportunities for global suppliers, while exports of products and services from both regions now influence the world market.