Monday, March 16, 2009

MLTA: strengthening the marriage of TV and the Internet

My friend John Goedegebuure is taking the company and product that he works for, Daily Media, to the next level. I have written about the mediacenter/set-top box several times before, but the new direction is definitely worth taking a look at. You can read an article from him here, explaining the new direction.

First a few words recapitulating the box and the services.

The Daily Media box brings internet content to the TV, much like comparable offerings from Apple (Apple TV), Microsoft, Sony, or start-ups like Sezmi and MyBroadbandTV. Internet-based content, available through a broadband connection, is streamed to the TV and services are added. Daily Media however takes a different approach when it comes to marketing the product: the business model is such that the box is free for consumers and a third party is engaged to carry the cost (some EUR 150 per box). Further, the product is entirely plug-and-play.

Just about any company could join the partner program, but they will typically share a few traits:
  • They will have a subscriber (or user) base of some sort, or are trying to build one,
  • They will be looking to raise customer loyalty (or reduce churn),
  • They will be trying to differentiate in a tough (commoditised) market,
  • They will be looking for new revenue streams (from targeted ads delivered through the box and shared revenues from services such as VoD).
Partner companies could be telcos, cablecos, ISPs, TV networks, insurance companies, pizza delivery chains, newspaper companies, you name it.

The new direction involves Multi Layer TV Advertising (MLTA), which takes the marriage of internet and television (including existing red button applications) to the next level. The user experience is still entirely TV-focused. Instead of TV shows directing viewers to their computers ("find out more at"), the new technology empowers the viewer to remain seated on his sofa and control both the TV and related internet services using just the remote control (or a keyboard). In other words, it's an integrated multimedia single (but split) screen experience.

As such, it could even be compared to the amazing 'sixth sense' device shown here (thanks Vincent), which one day will be the entirely mobilised version: both devices enhance our reality with internet-based content. In John's case, the technology ('Dynacast') is from Harris Broadcast. Read more about it here.

Obviously, the model involves advertising, which will be much better targeted than traditional TV ads and hence carry a much higher ROI and CPM (or CPA). But, make no mistake: if MLTA is sufficiently successful, ordinary TV ads could even be reduced, enhancing the viewer experience even further.

One last word: if this takes of, there's yet another reason to build NGA networks.

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