Tuesday, June 28, 2011

5 Innovations changing Cable TV

Earlier this month, the cable industry held its big annual trade show (The Cable Show) in Chicago.  These shows are good places to look at the new ideas and technology that drive innovation.  Multichannel News' Todd Spangler identified five areas of innovation that are likely to impact the cable industry.
  1. Web-User Interfaces - from developing cloud-based programming guides (providing access from any device, anywhere; the capability to personalize features, including integration with social media and other Web services like Twitter), to apps allowing users to control set-top boxes and DVRs, enhanced search capabilities, to IPTV services delivering video programming to a variety of devices, look for even more choices for people to personalize and control their viewing experiences.
  2. Multiscreen Video - The goal is "TV Everywhere," the idea that program can be delivered to any screen, anywhere, at any time.  A variety of technologies are addressing the two key underlying issues: taking content designed for one screen and optimizing it for other screens and networks; and developing systems to ensure that content is delivered only to licensed users (the issue of authentication).
  3. Broadband Speed - IPTV, and all of the above services need bandwidth. Their growth, and the growth of IPTV will drive demand for higher bandwidth (Cisco forecasts average worldwide broadband speeds to grow from 7 Mps in 2010 to 28 Mps by 2015).  The Cable Show saw several innovations that could cable get higher broadband speeds from its installed network.
  4. Home Gateways - the transition from the current mix of analog and digital signals on most cable systems to fully digital will help cable expand services - although at the cost of the signals being incompatible with existing TV sets.  The current solution is to provide set-top boxes for each TV, but home gateways offer a bit of an alternative.  Combining multiple tuners with high storage capacity, a home gateway becomes the primary cable-to-broadcast conversion point, feeding channel and viewing choices direct to each set through existing inputs.
  5. Advanced Ads - talking advantage of the interactivity and the addressability of digital cable, there's long been a promise of being able to incorporate direct user responses to ads (click on an ad to receive more info, etc.) and to more narrowly target ads (having VOD operators to insert the ads most appropriate to the program and household in the delivered content, or having your box determining which of a set of ads is most appropriate for you)
 In sum, technology is pushing cable to become more of a smart digital network service, than a multichannel analog TV delivery system. Having a smart digital network means that subscribers will have more flexibility, more choice, and more control over their TV viewing experience.  And that the smart network will be able to personalize use, help to identify channels and programs of interest, and delivery ads of (supposedly) greater interest and appropriateness.  It also means that cable will become more like broadband IP networks than traditional broadcasting - and having to compete with broadband and IPTV services offered by the telecomms (such as AT&T's U-verse and Verizon's FiOS) instead of local broadcasters and DBS.

Source:  "5 Technology Innovations Changing Cable TV" Multichannel News

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