I was fortunate to attend the London IPTV World Conference this week. For those who are not familiar with IPTV, it is the ability to receive your TV programming via the Internet rather than Satellite or Cable. Normally this is done via a Set Top Box (STB) either wireless or with an Ethernet jack. The Xbox and other gaming console now have the IPTV STB capability built in.
It was exciting to hear what is happening with IPTV and Mobile TV in the rest of the World as Canada is very far behind. The Canadian Telco and Media sectors are not very innovative as we have large incumbents who are slow; they control the sector and the tariffs. The Canadian government has a lot of work to do if it wants to fully open these sectors to innovation and competition in Canada. Here is a snapshot of what I saw – why can’t we have this in Canada???!!!
Catch Up TV – The ability to watch your favorite TV programs online after they have aired. Sky TV in the UK is one example via their Sky Player.
Hulu – In the US, consumers can watch, for FREE on their PC, Hollywood movies and TV shows from major studios such as NBC, Fox and ABC. It is not possible to use Hulu in Canada!
Watch your videos, TV shows and movies where you want – A common user interface allows you to easily access your programming on anyone of 3 screens: the PC, the SmartPhone or the TV.
Control your TV Digital Video Recorder (DVR) via your Smartphone or your PC. This includes browsing you TV programming guide, selecting shows and saving them in your Favorites, scheduling shows to be recorded, browsing shows, and deleting shows that have been set up to be recorded. All this from your Smartphone or PC!! Can you imagine controlling your DVR while on the bus or at work? AT&T UVerse does this in the USA.
Interactive TV Applications – There are too many applications available to mention them all here but the ones I thought were interesting included the ability to access your PC’s hard drive to browse, select and view pictures or videos on the TV and to access Facebook from the TV to let your friends know what you are watching.
Content discovery – Recommendations on what you should watch based on your preferences (what you have watched in the past). This is similar to Amazon suggesting similar books to the one you are interested in and telling you what others who have bought this book have also bought.
IPTV has not yet reached mass market as only 2% of households worldwide subscribe to an IPTV service. The Mobile TV market is even smaller and is experiencing a 40% churn rate. However, as more mobile devices become Mobile TV friendly and we continue to watch a large amount of videos online, the market will grow. It is expected that IPTV will reach mass market status in 5 years.
Will Canada actively participate in the sector or will we continue to live in the dark ages?