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. Viewers will be able to watch what they want, when they want to. Interactive TV services will be an essential differentiator for the multitude of IPTV offerings that are emerging. Interactivity via a quick two-way connection will lift IPTV ahead of today’s television.
IPTV draws together the television, internet and telephone. Similar to cable or satellite television, IPTV uses a set-top box (STB) that allows audiences to watch hundreds of channels and order 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 solutions 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 linear and on-demand content that is available.
EPGs are likely to allow viewers to look at program listings up to two weeks in advance, and also look back over programmes from the previous seven days broadcast schedule. A strong search facility will allow viewers to look for programmes by title, genre and keywords. Filters will allow viewers to show lists of movies, music, pay-per-view events and high definition programmes.
The particular EPG will be customisable by viewers, 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 fixed top boxes will incorporate a Personal Video Recorder (PVR) that will allow programmes and interactive content to be recorded. Viewers will be able to watch one programme while recording another. They’ll become able to use interactive services or video on demand while recording 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 Program Guide. Intelligent series linking enables programme episodes to be recorded depending on preferences; first-runs, repeats, or just about all occurrences. Programme and movie trailers will contain interactive links that could be selected to schedule a recording. Remote control scheduling of recording will also be possible using a mobile phone or the web.
With IPTV, viewers will be able to watch a lot more television at the same time. Sports activities fans will be able to keep an eye on six video games at once, on the same screen, or study one game from multiple digital camera angles. Viewer involvement will be prompted through voting, competitions and messaging services.
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Interactive advertising will extend traditional linear advertising. It will eventually allow advertisers to give product info in the form of an on-screen interactive brochure. This will re-enforce the brand communications and encourage viewer involvement with the product. It will also allow a direct element to be added to any TV strategy, with responses being captured from viewers.
The dual end nature of an IPTV connection makes it ideal for providing person-to-person communication solutions. Instant messaging services will allow viewers to ‘chat’ via text messages while continuing to watch TV. Video meeting over television will allow virtual family members gatherings when family members are spread across the world.
Services will be used each as stand-alone applications, and as addons to programming. Friends will be able to conversation while watching a programme ‘together’ in various locations. Phone-in shows will be able to screen callers, linked directly from their home.