Connected TV Confusion

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The connected TV ecosystem is increasingly fragmented, and it is only going to become more complex and confusing as competition increases with the introduction of new platforms and capabilities.

That's the view of Brightcove's Eric Elia, vice president of TV solutions, speaking at Broadcast Video Expo in London on Tuesday.

Presenting two sessions intended to help content owners and producers navigate the multi-platform and connected device landscape, Elia predicted that there will be as much if not more fragmentation in the connected TV sector as the industry witnessed previously with mobile platforms.

"My recommendation is that broadcasters choose platforms in this new landscape very carefully," he says. "The audience is nascent for connected TV, several years behind where we are with mobile, and the ROI may not be initially apparent.  Connected TVs are shipping with Ethernet ports but that doesn't mean that all are created equal or that people are even hooking them to the internet-or if they are they accessing web services at the expense of traditional TV programming."

That warning aside, Elia urged content owners to consider certain platforms more seriously than others.

"I like the gaming platforms in terms of their scale even if they don't offer as much out-of-the-box flexibility as open platforms. I also think that strategies by consumer electronics companies like LG and Samsung are interesting in terms of getting functionality into the living room. At some point soon a programmer might be able to develop one Adobe AIR app that runs across multiple platforms."

Elia also outlined some of the issues that programmers for connected TV platforms need to be familiar with such as codecs, DRM, and versioning for different screen sizes.

"Over the past 18 months we've seen a lot of change and a real diversity of platforms from the traditional PC to the ‘Touch Web' on portable devices to connected TVs, and within that range there are multiple operating systems (i.e Symbian, Blackberry, Android, iOS) all proprietary but some a bit more closed than others.

"Each OS has a different requirement around video playback, analytics, and security, and a multitude of DRM requirements. Many companies are compelled to adopt studio-level DRM such as Microsoft Playready, Marlin, or Widevine.

"For programmers prioritizing how to make decisions on different platforms and how to invest budgets wisely and developing apps compatible with those platforms, it all becomes very confusing and the situation doesn't look like it's going to slow down."

Elia also discussed the implications of Google's decision to remove support for the widespread H.264 codec from future versions of Chrome, to concentrate on supporting its own WebM codec.

He explained that Brightcove is a system that can help any type of media company to stay above the fray.

"For example, we have Smart Players that auto-detect the devices viewing your video and deliver the appropriate format, runtime, and streaming service for that environment. Player styles are automatically rendered in both Flash and HTML5 as appropriate. So for a publisher this means they can ingest content and author once to run on many of the platforms they wish to target."

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