[opendtv] Re: Democrats Air Concerns About Analog Switchover

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 22 Nov 2006 09:22:48 -0500

At 11:18 AM -0800 11/21/06, John Willkie wrote:

So, they won't be interested in buying something by clicking on their remote
versus getting up from the tv set, going over to the computer, and working
there?  I see these as two different 'markets' and don't think that one
forecloses the other.

Not what I was saying.

One of the reasons that the Full Service Network failed was that they wanted any entity using their system to use their proprietary tools for interactivity. There was this handy book that TW would sell you defining the way the system worked and the tools that would be used. Other cable companies were talking about the same concept, however, each had its own proprietary tools. Furthermore, with the Full Service Network, TW set up toll booths for everyone; if you wanted to get in the T-commerce business, you had to pay Time Warner a percentage of the transaction, as well as using their proprietary tools.

Needless to say this never happened, nor have there been any real successes in the realm of interactive TV in the U.S. Instead, something interesting happened on the way to the digital age...

The Internet.

The Internet allowed anyone to set up their own storefront using extensible standardized tools. The infrastructure for networked commerce happened via the Internet, rather than walled gardens. OCAP is yet another attempt to build cable industry standards for interactivity, tools that hardly anyone has an interest in using.

This is not to say that people do not want to interact with TV or buy things. T-commerce is already a huge business, depending mostly on the telephone as a return channel, and now increasingly the Internet. What any advertiser wants is to be able to close the loop with a potential buyer. What they do not want is to have to pay for the ad, then share the revenues from the transaction too. And there is no need for this.

Most cable systems today already provide the back channel technology - not the upstream signaling used for VOD, but rather the broadband IP channels, over which the cable company has no "content" control. And many homes now have persistent Internet connectivity, either from the cable company, the phone company or alternative broadband providers. When the STB or integrated TV is connected to the Internet, you have almost everything needed to support T-commerce, even for broadcasters who do not have a return path.

By the way, John. I described all of this in detail in the Data Broadcast papers I presented at SMPTE conference in the mid to late '90s.

There is one other thing that you need in the TV to do this: support for interactions and a GUI to control them. You can do this using any number of proprietary schemes like OCAP, OpenTV, MHEG, et al. OR you can use a web browser...

Now that virtually all new TVs are use progressive scanning and have addressable rasters, adding a browser is a no brainer.

So the long answer to you question is thus: The consumer will have several options in terms of closing the loop with content that is pushed to the receiver via DBS, Cable, or broadcast. IF properly implemented, the receiver can keep a list of URLS for everything that was offered during the period that someone is watching. Think of this like the history function in a web browser. The viewer could then access this history list, either directly via the TV, or indirectly via a PC to handle potential transactions, or to simply gather more depth info about a program.

Or the viewer could interact immediately using the browser built into the TV. If they did this during a program the program would be cached, and they could pick up wherever they stopped viewing before they paused for the interaction.

I could keep going, or just send you one of the SMPTE papers John.

In the 'personal people meter' context, there is some and perhaps a
significant amount of value to be gained by tying viewing into purchasing,
versus off-line 'click when you want' purchases.

And there is no reason in a home networked environment that this cannot be tracked, no matter how the interaction takes place. The whole point here is that we are moving to a networked environment with persistent INTER-connectivity, rather than a bunch of walled gardens where the bits cannot move outside of those walls.

I agree that there is significant value in closing the loop between advertiser and viewer. There is also a downside - we may get real verifiable ratings for what people actually are watching. We may also get more targeted advertising, and the opportunity to barter our time for content, by watching ads we are interested in, or as a bonus when we buy stuff.


I will say that unless someone or several someones don't try these
technologies that tie in video/audio with interactive content, then it won't
happen.

There have been many attempts, with limited success in the U.S. There is a real T-commerce business taking shape in Europe, but it also faces the problem of competiting with the Internet.

More important, however, is the fact that the major players are indeed NOT TRYING. Instead they continue to push proprietary concepts that never seem to get much traction. There are strong parallels here between the "placeholder" ATSC standard, and the various proprietary standards for interactivity. In both cases the real goal is to keep people surfing with a TV remote..."just lean back, shut up, and watch what we tell you to watch."

By know, I would have thought everyone on this list understands that the content creation and distribution industries are primarily concerned about maintaining the status quo, not building new empires...

That's why the stock prices for the big content conglomerates are in the tank, but Google just broke $500/share yesterday.

Regards
Craig


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