TV Everywhere, OTT via the internet create debate at Casbaa Convention

MUMBAI: TV Everywhere and Over the Top Television (OTT) via the internet created some sharp debate during the first day of the Casbaa Convention 2011 in Hong Kong. The onset of new and global internet-delivered TV services such as Hulu, Netflix and the BBC I-player as extensions of traditional cable, satellite and IPTV systems was declared as "inevitable" by many speakers and delegates drawn from Asia and the rest of the world.

Hulu senior VP International Johannes Larcher said, "You can‘t stop the OTT revolution. There are many incremental revenues to be made from OTT."

Yet the question remains "Who will pay?" and how will content and multichannel TV platform operators monetise and retain revenues while engaging with "authorised" customers?

In the opening session of the day on the changing world of TV, Microsoft corporate VP, Media and Entertainment Group Blair Westlake shared his anticipation that the evolution of the smart, digitally "Connected TV" could soon match the speed of collaborative innovation witnessed in the past three years. He added that tablets and smartphones and "smart glass" have fast become the focus of the entertainment experience.
Even so, BBC Worldwide president, worldwide networks and Global iPlayer Jana Bennett noted that audiences still want a mass experience. Yet part of the future growth for content will come from mining niches and catering to passions.

Facebook director North Asia Jayne Leung later highlighted the multiplier effect of new audience engagements. Fans recommending TV content to friends present an immense opportunity to content owners and marketers to establish life-long connectivity, she said. Google AP director, strategic business development Michelle Guthrie reinforced that collaboration is key to the future innovation of the industry and ecosystems should underpin this collaboration.

Meanwhile, in his welcoming remarks Financial Secretary of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (Hong Kong SAR) John C Tsang highlighted the benefits to the multichannel television industry of Hong Kong‘s level playing field for business and the free flow of information, including a free and unfettered media.

"We pursue market-driven, technology-neutral broadcasting policies, and regulate the broadcasting industry with the lightest touch," he said. "I am pleased that Casbaa rates Hong Kong as one of the most favourable and competitive environments for the pay TV industry. This tells us that we must be doing something right."

Rapid media convergence has made the traditional boundaries between telecommunications and broadcasting increasingly blurred, Tsang said. To sustain a regulatory environment that will help Hong Kong capture new opportunities and meet new challenges, a unified regulatory authority called The Communications Authority will be established in April next year.

Casbaa CEO Simon Twiston Davies added, "What we have seen at the Convention 2011 is that our industry‘s first 20 years is a journey that has only just begun. Even with more than 420 million non-terrestrial TV connections across the Asia Pacific, there is phenomenal opportunity for even more expansion and growth in the region."

The Casbaa Convention 2011 is being supported by Fox International Channels, Turner Broadcasting, Eurosport, Dolby, Getty Images, ABS, Al Jazeera, APT, Asiasat, Bloomberg Television, CNBC Asia Pacific, Conax, Deutsche Welle, Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific, Disney Channels Worldwide, ESPN Star Sports, Fashion One, Fashiontv, Food Network Asia, France 24, GE Satellite, Globecast, HBO Asia, Intelsat, Invest Hong Kong, Irdeto, ITV Granada, Life Inspired, Measat, MGM Channel, now TV, Paul, Weiss, Playboy TV International, PwC, RRsat, SES, Sundance Channel/WE tv, Synovate, Time Warner, Trace, TrueVisions, TV5 Monde, Universal Networks International, Viacom, WarnerTV and YouTube.

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