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Interview: Anthony Rose, former CTO, YouView & Future Media Controller, BBC

Anthony Rose
Anthony Rose, former CTO, YouView & Future Media Controller, BBC is one of the speakers at this Thursday's VoD and the rise of web-connected TV event, taking place on Thursday 20 January at the Blue Fin in London – Forum events are now free for publisher members (more details below).

Where do you think the future of VOD is heading and how big a role will Connected TV play?

BBC iPlayer user research makes it clear that people want to watch catch-up TV on their television sets rather than their computers, so clearly there is a huge opportunity for both device manufacturers and content providers to tap into.

In an ideal world people won’t need to buy separate set top boxes because all the necessary connectivity and features will be built directly into their TV sets.

But that’s not going to be realistic for quite some time, and nobody is going to throw away a perfectly good six month old 50” plasma TV just because it doesn’t have the latest internet features, so in the short to medium term most people will get connected TV experiences through new set top boxes, BluRay players and games consoles.

What would you say will be the main impact on publishers and how should they be preparing?

Publishers need to balance getting onto connected TV now (high integration cost, non-trivial technical development, few users – but a first-mover advantage, great location of their icon on the TV desktop and little competition from other content providers) vs. waiting (lower integration and technical cost, but potentially losing key desktop icon placement and traffic building opportunities to others).

Do you see Apple TV, Google TV and YouView as allies or competitors in this space and who do you feel will dominate?

Few people realise that Google TV isn’t a consumer proposition at all – i.e. Google don’t actually make a gadget in the same way that Apple do. Instead, it’s Sony and Logitech who currently make connected TV propositions based on free open-source software provided by Google.

So there isn’t a Google TV – there’s a Logitech box, a Sony box, etc. They’re all different, and based on reviews so far not destined for the big time, at least in their current guise.

Apple TV alas sits as a separate proposition, divorced from where consumers normally spend time on their TVs, which is watching broadcast TV, and the question is whether those propositions gain traction in the long term.

YouView ticks all the boxes in terms of creating an integrated linear and VOD proposition, so we all look forward to seeing what the actual consumer proposition turns out to be, and whether it delivers a compelling set of features that match the things people are coming to expect (favourites, recommendations, app store, triple-play integration, etc.).

What do you think the main commercial opportunities in Connected TV are for publishers?

A typical music store has around 4000 CDs, so if you fall outside that ‘long tail’ then you get zero distribution.

The internet doesn’t have that problem, and everyone gets their share of that unlimited shelf space. But for everyone other than the major players, it’s just too hard to rise above the noise of millions of other sites, and you get essentially no traffic.

But – for now – connected TVs are “right sized” – i.e. in the short to medium term, the relative openness of connected TVs, combined with the lack of quality content, mean that even smaller players have a real chance of capitalising on that opportunity and getting more traffic to their content than they could get in either a physical store or the wider internet.

What scope is there for non-broadcast publishers to get involved?

Connected TVs are really the ultimate opportunity for non-broadcast publishers, because finally there’s a platform that means you don’t need a DTT license to get your content onto the living room TV on a – in due course – equal basis to that enjoyed by broadcasters.

What do you think the next big breakthroughs in the area of video might be?

I’ll pass on the 3D. I might even pass on the HD (hey, many of my favourite movies are black and white). Just give me something decent to watch!

Oh, and don’t force me to wade through page after page of listings looking for something – I just want to turn on my TV and have my favourite programmes, movies and news clips, all lined up ready to play in Channel Me.

New pricing and membership structure

Under our new membership structure, attendance at our Forums is now free for Publisher (Board and Affiliate) Members who renew membership in 2011, up to a maximum of 4 places per company. Any additional places will be invoiced at £95+vat.

This takes effect immediately, including for next week’s event, VoD and the Rise of Web-Connected TV, taking place on 20 January.

Full details on this event.

Tickets for Associate Members remain at £95+vat - if you are an Associate, and wish to book, please login and register for the event, and we will invoice you. Tickets for non-members remain at £195+vat.

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