[opendtv] Highfield unveils vision for Freeview's future

  • From: "Manfredi, Albert E" <albert.e.manfredi@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 19 Apr 2007 11:04:47 -0400

This vision of Freeview future includes a PVR/Internet TV hybrid STB,
for catch-up video on demand. Should be readily doable.



Highfield unveils vision for Freeview's future

BBC future media and technology director Ashley Highfield says it is
"critical that Freeview evolves as a compelling and competitive
alternative to cable and satellite". That means free-to-air channels in
high definition-now the subject of a heated debate between public
services broadcasters and regulator Ofcom over future use of liberated
spectrum. But Highfield told a conference in Cannes that Freeview also
needed to offer on-demand content, "both a catch-up service, and access
to back-catalogue and archive programming".

In a wide-ranging speech Highfield also disclosed that the BBC was
working on an Apple Mac-compatible version of its web-based iPlayer
seven-day catch-up TV service, as well as launching a pilot opening up
the BBC's vast archive to web users.

"Getting our BBC iPlayer seven-day catch-up TV service and our archive
pilot out on to the web is one thing, but clearly the biggest available
audience is sat in front of the television. Like many others, we've been
busy building a bridge between our on-demand content aspirations and our
audiences' lounge-bound televisions," said Highfield.

"As Britain enters the endgame of analogue switchover, we have a
four-year-long opportunity to achieve a step-change in the services
which we deliver on Freeview, and to evolve and future-proof Freeview
with additional advanced interactive and digital functionality.

"We've just completed a technical trial to test some of the technologies
around, pushing 50 hours of BBC programming per week automatically to
digital video recorders on Freeview.

"It's a simple catch-up service that could become the entry-point for
audiences to on-demand for the first time. Its advantage over a PVR is
that you don't have to remember to record your favourite BBC programmes,
and that at any one moment, in addition to all the linear channels,
there is always a freshly-prepared up-to-date carousel of 50 hours of
on-demand programmes."

Highfield said while 'push-VOD' had its attractions it would not allow
"any viewer to access any BBC programme ever broadcast via their
television". That required an internet connection and new hybrid set-top
box, combining broadcast TV with the internet. "Hybrid boxes are a part
of the future, as important-if not more so-than standard PVRs," said

"In a hybrid environment you can really start to mix and match, using
the best of both worlds linear scheduled TV via digital broadcast for
new programming on the one hand, and deep archive via IP on the other.
Their worlds may be converging, but they're not in competition. The BBC
will deliver content and applications via broadcast and IP, merging them
into a seamless audience experience."

Lovelace Consulting 19.04.2007
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