In recent months, several European broadcasters have undertaken initiatives to implement Over-The-Top (OTT) TV services. e-Media Institute has devoted a new research product (Web-TV Intelligence & Strategies Weekly Brief) to tracking and analysing such operations.
The research has identified more than 20 projects in the pipeline throughout Europe, with major UK and French broadcasters leading the way in the larger European TV markets. Research has also highlighted two parallel trends. The first is the development of distribution agreements between rights holders and hardware providers, including manufacturers of game consoles, set-top-boxes, TV sets, broadband consumer equipment and media centres (e.g., Five-Sony; Sky-Microsoft; TF1-Apple).
The second trend is the direct involvement of broadcasters in projects aimed at developing an open technical standard for the implementation of shared OTT TV services, including the Canvas Project in the UK and the pan-European Hybrid Broadband Broadcast TV Project (HbbTV).
For more information on the report and how to purchase, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The recent decision taken by Tiscali Italy to shutdown their IP-TV service, and the few subscribers acquired during the period
in which the company promoted its Internet+IP-TV package is an important signal
to the Free Software community.
It's a sign that the already fragmented market for Set-Top Boxes leaves no room for closed solutions (the so-called "walled gardens"). There are many solutions available today for those who want to bring to the living room a system to manage their multimedia content. The problem is, however, that all these solutions are closed in some way or have major limitations, because of the difficulties in development and production processes.
Perhaps it is time now that the big players in the market start thinking why not building a large "Open Garden" for entertainment. An open standard for interoperability, development and distribution of multimedia applications. A system that can run on "old" Tiscali boxes, TiVo boxes or any other box which can be purchased on the web (like the Neuros LINK, for example). A new approach to entertainment that could give Set-Top Boxes the same flexibility the PC has, to stimulate creation of new multimedia applications (like p2p tv services, voip, email, web, social networking...), but without compromising the nature, usability and comfort of being able to enjoy media from our couch.
We're working on a project proposal for the drafting of such standards and the development of a back-end and middleware layers that will offer a stable and interoperable platform for Set-Top Boxes. As Facebook and Apple have managed to create their basic platforms for the distribution of applications for Social Networking and on mobile devices (iPhone, iPod touch), the idea is to create a new channel of distribution (an open channel this time) where producers and consumers can interact without intermediates, creating and consuming media (either free or paying for it).