Digital TV in focus as television hooks into the high definition era

SINGAPORE: With more than 150 million Digital TV homes across the world, the debate has fast moved on from 'whether internet will do to TV, what TV did to radio years back!

The morning session on the changing face of television at Broadcast Asia 2006, brought home the fact that from the first launches of MPEG -2DVB broadcast platforms, the industry is seeing a new wave in TV delivery, which is being driven by intense competition amongst platform operators across the world.

Speaking on the occasion, Tandberg Television Asia Pacific president Graham Cradock said, "Research indicates that by 2010, more than 50 per cent of TV viewing is going to be on -demand basis. Consumers are already reacting favourably and adopting the new technological changes. There are 10 million High-definition (HDTV) subscribers in the US and The desire to watch the recent World Cup Fever has added on to the HDTV households across the globe including countries like Korea and Japan."

Quoting from a study conducted by Ernst and Young in the US, Cradock added that in this digital decade, it takes very little time for people to adopt to newer technologies. So, it took almost 16 years for mobile to catch on, nine years for the internet, DVDs took six years to bust the video business; but for digital TV, it will probably take just very little time. He added, "Across the world more than ten per cent of the digital TV homes have shifted to on-demand basis. By 2010, we predict more than 50 the per cent of TV viewing is going to be on demand basis."

The key message here is that the consumer has fast changed in the last five years. The availability of increasingly sophisticated personal media services has created a new generation of digital savvy consumers. With devices such as digital camera and video phones, MP3 players, personal video players and gaming consoles the use of WiFi to connect to the internet, the consumer is becoming a more and more accustomed to living in a world where he or she can access content anywhere.

So, what does this mean for the consumer and for broadcasters? Well, in the on-demand economy, obviously content remains king and consumer the real winner. Television will not offer more customized content supported by technology to go with the new multi media solutions like internet protocol television (IPTV) and high-definition technology. To add on it will be features like personal video recording, digital audio broadcasting (DAB) and conditional access control.

Cradock stressed the fact that there was not much customised content for television, "Television content, will have to be repurposed to suit the delivery platforms. And there is a growing cohabitative relationship between television, the Internet and to some extent mobile too. The challenge in the future is to make them complimentary to each other," he said.

So, how are broadcasters gearing up to the challenges of Digital TV and the emergence of convergence?

Said Cradock, "The changing face of television is giving sleepless nights to many broadcasters, as the order will question the fundamental parameters of TV viewing. From the commercial perspective, fragmented content will obviously reduce advertising revenue. Also, they have to make sure that consumers have the screens which support the newer technologies. The complex TV world will also bring about legislative issues in the wake of digital switchover, access rights, franchising fees, etc."

Graham listed out the survival strategy in the changing scenario:

Don't get anxious. Instead, get enthusiastic about the changes and adapt to them. Like, New Zealand is already talking about the digital switchover and opening up the bandwidth to cater to interactive television.

In IPTV, see an opportunity for delivery for interactive TV

Fragmentad and customized content will mean a drop in revenues but there is a positive side to it. Look at branded content, which will deliver more return on investment (RoI) for the advertisers.

For advertisers, it will be a win-win situation; at least now they'll get to know what works best for them.

Remember, earlier it was content to the consumer, and now it is content for the consumer.

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