Saturday, June 25, 2011

MPJC: no visionaries

Last Thursday was the annual Mediapark Jaarcongres (MPJC) of the public broadcasting sector in the Netherlands. Not quite as interesting as last year's edition, but well worthwhile. No real visionaries, apart from the 4K contribution, but that was done last year as well. Here are a few common themes.

It was all about:
- Smartphones, tablets, touch screen, swiping
- Connected TV, TV everywhere, second screen
- Social media and social TV
- Consumer is in control
i.e. nothing really new.

Hybrid TV
UPC and others pointed out that there still is very little true integration of broadcast and broadband, despite all the connected TVs. We have come to the same conclusion (report available at 50% discount for readers of this blog), which is well worth stating explicitly, because the term 'interactivity' is used much to easily for functions that aren't really worth it. Such as pausing live TV - nothing more than a very basic feature exploring the two-way connection of an 'interactive' TV. There is still a lot to be done.

Kevin Slavin
Excellent talk from Kevin Slavin of Starling TV and Area/Code about the role of the audience. From the laffbox (LFN: laugh from nowhere - check out this) to Facebook/Twitter, parasocial relationships, the audience becoming a character (see Brand Fiction Factory), a character as the audience and finally Everyware (... is where the laughter comes from): social media replace the laugh track.
Twitters problems: hashtags are not unified; there are simply too many tweets.

RTL, Sanoma
Both are pusuing a strategy of 'follow the consumer' - not surprising.
Sanoma NL (revenues: EUR 500m) took some effort defending its takeover of SBS (3 TV channels, program guide) for EUR 1.2bn (shared with Talpa). The problem is not so much SBS's current underperformance (that's simply due to a 'cycle'), the real problem is that this is essentially a change of control where the acquirer has no clue how to run a TV company. Talpa (TV productions) is included in the deal, taking a 33% share, but they don't know how to run a company like SBS either. Which is why they will have a very hard time realising synergies.

Solid statements: Google lacks a unifying UI across all devices; social TV is still embryonic. No news on the Horizon box (see page 5 of this journal: trial coming to the Netherlands in July, commercial launch September).

Glashart Media (Reggefiber)
Reggefiber has ~700k homes passed and ~200k homes activated (for more details on the Dutch FTTH market: our FTTH NL 2011 report will be out next week - here is last years' edition). Glashart Media services 130k TV homes, of which 45k use interactive services.
Its claimed USPs: picture and sound quality; number of channels; EPG (providing access to apps); 3-D ready; content (local TV, VOD, catch-up TV, Eredivisie Live). OTT services are drawn into the managed services domain, while providing open access to all content parties (0900-TV).
2010 Was the year of 'fix the basics', 2011 is the year of 'boost the base'. A new box will be launched, allowing 3 TV sets to be connected and with a 250 GB hard disk optional. They also want to experiment with a kind of prepaid card, giving access to certain content for a limited time. Intriguing plan: an off-footprint break-out is coming, i.e. Glashart Media providing TV services outside the Reggefiber footprint.

Launch of the new site

Some stats on Eredivisie Live: 550k subscribers, 1m unique visitors/month, 1.5m views/month, 300k live streams/year. A new site will be launched at the end of June 2011, relying completely on adaptive streaming. It will offer a single-sign-on (across devices). They see an interest in niche content, such a (just 30k active sportsmen, but no fewer than 28-30k views per video).

TNO/Waag Society
Wonderful demo of 4K, which is predicted to come to market in 2011. What it claims to be is an even sharper image, creating the illusion of 'really being part of it'. But 4K also offer a more dynamic picture and a much better opportunity to zoom in. Japan expects 8K by 2020. SD (720x576) implies 0.4 megapixels, HD (1920/1080) implies 2 mp, 4K (4096x2160) goes to 8.8 mp and 8K to 33 mp. And then you can combine 4K (or 8K) with 3-D. Bandwidth consequences are apparent.

Public Broadcasting
The day started off with the PO (public broadcasting) commenting on government plans to reduce support by EUR 127m. This number is supported by a recent BCG report. Broadcasters (essentially production companies) will be forced to merge to reduce the field to 8 players, from 21 currently. (According to the PO, this will supply only 30% of the targeted savings and the plans will force 20% lay-offs.)

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