Sunday, August 07, 2005

Versatel on track to offering soccer

Last week I visited the Versatel headquarters in Amsterdam and had a demo of its hot new product: Live soccer + internet access. It looks quite impressive.

The company is currently rolling out ADSL2+ internet access to exchanges covering 60% of the Dutch population. The tariff is 40 EUR/month but includes free live soccer from the Dutch first league ('Eredivisie'). Versatel is not adding exchanges, by the way. So, in rural areas live-soccer can only be had through a subscription to CanalDigitaal. The ADSL2+ network will be extended to covering more than 60% once there is some indication that demand will justify the investment.

A live TV-stream uses 4 Mbps. Versatel advertises ADSL2+ as a 20 Mbps service, but will only actually sell the socces product when a minimum bandwidth of 6-8 Mbps can be guaranteed (enough for one TV, internet access and telephony). This depends on the availablity of the ADSL2+ network, and also on the distance to the exchange.
At the moment, people can only have one set-top box (for unspecified technical reasons). The modem has room for two (plus 2 wired PC's, several wireless PC's and VoIP).

Everything seems to be working fine. The user interface is fully moron-proof. The TV-portal offers a transparant menu. Apart form the free soccer matches (starting August 12), there are some obvious content categories. For now, these are thinly filled, mainly for testing purposes, but also by way of teasers to the early adapters. It contains buttons for:
  • tv: same, to be introduced 05Q4; already, the Dutch and German public (state-owned) networks are available
  • video: rights negotiations with a large range of content providers are on-going; so far just some trailers
  • e-mail: under construction
  • radio: obviously not very useful through the TV-set
Practically everything is made by Samsung (already a more powerful brand than Sony, according to Interbrand). The digital rights management (DRM) software must be an exception, as it is licensed from an independent vendor. This also highlights Samsung's interest. Not only will they take pride in delivering this IPTV system in a very short period of time (8 months). Also, first and foremost they are an electronics manufacturer. So don't be surprised to see flatscreen offers including a Verasatel subsription hit the market before Christmas.
Another type of Samsung hardware that could in due course come to the Netherlands is a WiFi/cellular phone. Versatel will begin offering VoIP in 05Q3, but a wireless deal still has to be worked out. Versatel currently resells Telfort, which is being acquired by KPN. And when Versatel merges with Tele2, these companies will be stronger adversaries than ever. Maybe Vodafone will step in, using its experience in Brittain, where it works with BT on the Fusion phone.

Finally, some more details:
  • Versatel is a strong believer in 'next generation television': everything On Demand, no more broadcasting. Targeting will go to the next level: content and advertising can be targeted to individual users, since the set-top box delivers a wide range of information (exactly what is watched when) to Versatel.
  • Versatel also believes their set-top box (STB), which is pretty much like a PC, will be the center of the home entertainment. It will deliver not just video, but music and photos to the TV as well.
  • The 4 media farms in Holland, where the content is hosted, are used for a secondary purpose: anyone who wants video to be delivered through-out the country, can have it hosted on the servers in these farms. There is a trial with a Dutch retail bank. A specially branded channel will be available to all their branches in the Netherlands.
  • Similarly, a restaurant chain is interested in having a specially branded channel available to all Versatel subscribers. The channel could be accessible from the TV portal menu.
  • Dutch soccer matches are to be produced by EyeWorks for Versatel, Talpa and RTL 5. Each of these three has its own studio to add an individual look-and-feel. Versatel has its studio up and running at the Media Park in Hilversum
  • Scoop: Versatel has a deal with Brittain's Premier League. So, live English football as well.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Soccer Live Matches At Your Desktop
There are thousands of High Quality Channels streaming live football from around the world. We are here to show you how to find them. Receive live match links in your mail account. English Premiership Football and European Soccer Streams. Note all matches are as per BST.

Special Introductory offer:
Live match links in your mail account at only £1.00 GBP. Free for First Day if you subscribe it now.

1. Free Software:
We will provide you all software you need to get live match at your desktop.

2. Low Cost:
Free for the first day, Receive live match links in your mail account @ £1.00 GBP for each 2 weeks.

3. What's Needed:
Just need is to click on the link, start the software and match is on your desktop.

3. Live Soccer:
Watch live soccer online on your PC no need of buying Sky or Cable?

4. Is It Legal?
We donot stream live football from this server or blog. There are thousands of High Quality Channels streaming live football from around the world. We are here to show you how to find them.

Check it Once
Soccer Live Matches At Your Desktop