In the golden age of choice and experimentation for viewers, the Connected TV: Decoded event looked at how the internet is revolutionising television.
A new "golden age" of choice and experimentation for viewers is being ushered in by the rapid take-up of internet-connected TV sets in the home and the explosion of mobile devices on which users can find and watch programmes.
This was the optimistic view of Ilse Howling, Managing Director for Connected TV at Digital UK - one shared by the other panellists at a packed RTS Early Evening Event on 26 November. Earlier that day, Howling had announced the award of major contracts to build and test an updated, Freeview-branded connected-TV service.
Arqiva will provide the metadata system that will power the new service, which will enable viewers to move seamlessly between live and on-demand shows using Freeview's new "backwards EPG", and without being tied to a pay-TV contract.
The technical specification will be made available to content providers and to manufacturers, so they can build it into televisions and set-top boxes sold in the UK.
This vision of huge choice and many new means of navigation and distribution was broadly supported by Stephen Taylor, Director of Redshift Strategy consultancy, in his scene-setting introduction.
He recently completed an assessment of connected TV for Ofcom.
Forecasts that up to 90% of UK homes would have an internet-connected main TV set by 2020 more than seven times the current penetration were not controversial, said Taylor. But the interpretation put on that figure could be.
While average TV consumption per day would rise to 4 hours 50 minutes from the current 4 hours 33 minutes, linear viewing of scheduled TV would be robust, comprising around two-thirds of the total about 20 minutes less than today.
And although he expected 4G-enabled smart phones and tablets to fuel a boom in out-of-home viewing, the TV would still account for 74% of total viewing.
Taylor said there was a shift towards a "pay-lite" market, which the new Freeview connected-TV box could service, with viewers increasingly prepared to pay for specific content that they wanted. Sky Business Development Director Emma Lloyd agreed, adding that her company had created "an entirely new brand", Now TV, to offer short-term passes to sport, entertainment and movies in the past 18 months. Sky, however, had not yet noticed an appetite for shorter programmes tailored to mobile viewing.
Connected TV: Decoded was held at Cavendish Conference Centre, in central London on 26 November. It was produced by Stephen Gaynor. A full report of the event will be published in the next issue of Television.
Report by Maggie Brown