IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) is a way of distributing television content over high speed that enables a more customised and online user experience. IPTV will mean a significant change in viewing habits. Audiences will be able to watch what they want, when they wish to. Interactive TV services will be a key differentiator for the multitude of IPTV solutions that are emerging. Interactivity via a quick two-way connection will lift IPTV ahead of today’s television.
IPTV combines the television, internet and telephone.
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Similar to cable or satellite television, IPTV uses a set-top box (STB) that allows audiences to watch hundreds of channels and purchase movies through video-on-demand (VOD). IPTV uses broadband ADSL, the same technology that delivers high-speed Internet to the computer. This opens the door in order to much more interactivity and the potential for hundreds, as opposed to hundreds, of channels.
Find What’s On
All IPTV providers will offer basic interactivity to support routing and search of the vast amounts of content. An electronic programme guide (EPG) will allow viewers to browse the geradlinig and on-demand content that is available.
EPGs are likely to allow viewers to look at program listings up to two weeks in advance, as well as look back over programmes from the previous seven days broadcast schedule. An excellent search facility will allow viewers to consider programmes by title, genre plus keywords. Filters will allow viewers to display lists of movies, music, pay-per-view events and high definition programmes.
The EPG will be customisable by audiences, who will be able to create their own line-up of favourite channels and content material. As well as full-screen layouts, EPGs may have a mini-overlay mode which will allow the viewer to keep watching the current program while browsing the schedule.
Individual Video Recorder
Many IPTV place top boxes will incorporate an Individual Video Recorder (PVR) that will allow programs and interactive content to be documented. Viewers will be able to watch one programme while recording another. They’ll become able to use interactive services or even video on demand while saving in the background. While watching linear TV programming, viewers will be able to pause and rewind live television.
The PVR will be programmed via the Electronic Programme Guide. Intelligent series linking enables programme episodes to be recorded based on preferences; first-runs, repeats, or all occurrences. Programme and movie trailers will contain interactive links that may be selected to schedule a recording. Remote control scheduling of recording will also be achievable using a mobile phone or the web.
With IPTV, viewers will be able to watch a lot more television at the same time. Sports fans will be able to keep an eye on six games at once, on the same screen, or study one game from multiple camera angles. Viewer involvement will be inspired through voting, competitions and messages services.
Interactive advertising will certainly extend traditional linear advertising. It can allow advertisers to give product details in the form of an on-screen interactive products / services brochure. This will re-enforce the brand text messages and encourage viewer involvement with all the product. It will also allow a direct element to be added to any TV campaign, with responses being captured through viewers.
The two-way nature of an IPTV connection makes it ideal for providing person-to-person communication solutions. Instant messaging services will allow audiences to ‘chat’ via text messages whilst continuing to watch TV. Video conference meetings over television will allow virtual family gatherings when family members are spread across the world.
Services will be used each as stand-alone applications, and as add-ons to programming. Friends will be able to chat while watching a programme ‘together’ in different locations. Phone-in shows will be able to screen callers, linked directly from their home.
IPTV will provide many passes of news, entertainment and information. Viewers will be able to personalise their ‘feed reader’ to match their particular interests. This will then collect up-to-date information like news headlines, sports results, share prices and travel updates in a single place.
Dating services will allow subscribers to put together a profile and find compatible ‘matches’ to communicate with. Messages will be changed quickly, cheaply and safely, without the security concerns of meeting within the real world.
Betting & Gaming
IPTV will offer a range of betting and game playing on demand services. These will include sports betting services, where bets are put on both live and virtual sports. The betting will be closely linked to the TV coverage, and will include in-running betting. There will also be a range of internet casino style games including roulette, black jack, slots and poker. Some of these is going to be stand-alone games, others will be associated with programming with either live or virtual presenters.
IPTV will enable the secure revealing of video recordings, photos plus music. Users with a home network will be able to share digital content with other devices such as PCs and portable media players. IPTV will be an important component in the connected home.
Users will also be able to share content with friends and family across the Internet. Effective digital content protection with consumer flexibility will be essential for such sharing to prosper. IPTV could even allow users to get their own television channel where they can share their views, photos and videos using the rest of the world as a video podcasting.
Interactive television will provide truly useful applications that enhance the general user experience of IPTV. Interactive solutions must be seen as part of the overall infrastructure of delivering television – not only a bolt on.