Thursday, April 10, 2008

BBC's I player sets the bronze standard for TV

The TV design gate's open and whilst you could argue the BBC's Iplayer sets the gold standard, that's surely yet to come.

The news that the BBC's I player has proved a huge success for programmes watched over the net anywhere, anytime is welcome news for those looking to the net as the broadcast standard-in-waiting.

But with that news comes a mild spat between the Beep and ISPs claiming their networks are suffering under the weight of video downloads

Not our fault says the BBC's Dir of New Media and Technology, Ashley Highfield, in a response that suggested that you lot should be grateful since we at the BBC have added something tremendously useful to spawn broadband growth.

But the BBC has done even more than that, which should all become apparent soon.

I had the pleasure of meeting one of the new team boss at the BBC's futures department taking over the launch of the Iplayer last year: a true big hitter with huge credentials from Microsoft.

But that's not the point here.

The Iplayer version 1, should at some point soon be replaced in time by version 2 and so on. It's the silicon way of thinking - which the BBC's futures department will no doubt have adopted. [there's quite a few valley thinkers in there now]

Meanwhile there will be teams of outside techs deconstructing the player to refine their own releases. The BBC and others not wanting to lose the intiative will have to up the ante their end.

One question is will the BBC share the technology as an open source and in future license the player, with a sure fire guarantee of its programmes being one of the core bouquet of programmes or will it protect its new toy - shades of IBM versus Microsoft here, and the rest there as they say is history

The holy grail of broadcasting
A makeshift Iplayer in various arcane incarnations has seen the light before. In the late 90s Microsoft made a lot of hoopla over its web tv and you only have to look at the market now for alternative playes e.g. roo, Mavern Brightcove.

But where perhaps the BBC has had the upper hand is its's both technologist and premium content provider. It may not be getting viewers by the tens of millions any more but the long tail of downloads will do nicely thank you. My my what an interesting debate to be had at the end of the BBC's current license charter.

The news will bolster the network, project Kangaroo as it has been dubbed, being created by the BBC WS, ITV and Channel 4 and who else to see of outside competitors eating into their market share - be away with you newspapers!

With everyone now potentially a content maker, owning the transmission route and content will never be so crucial.

In I have a dream on the gadget zone Damian peers into the future. Its a shortish quick read and chimes with views being talked about by the likes of BT.

HD will rule - getting that over the web with nominal 8mb bandwidth is what the techs will be trying to solve.

Stand up Duncan Whiteman, whom I'll be bringing you a video of pretty soon. Duncan as previously mentioned in posts has cracked some of the gordian knots bedeviling the Network content flow providers.

At a recent meeting in Soho, his presentation left some heavyweight producers looking aghast. Jon Staton, formerly head of TV at Saatchi and Saatchi who runs his own successful agency, called Duncan's invention: the holy grail of braodcasting

But will technology of the kind released by the BBC truly yield new formats in programme construction.

I'm referring here to video with inbuilt hyperlinks, so you can jump from one video to another at set points, or second shift aesthetics -programmes that distinguish between made for terrestrial and online.

Winners and Losers
So great winners, but where are the losers?

With the demise of appointment-based what role will be played by the classic commissioner?
Will the future of TV revolve around making TV-based programmes first and fixed screens second?
Will hollogram and 3d based Tv have any room to squeeze into our conscious?

And how soon before an internet based programme network challenges the hegemony of existing broadcasters.

Last week I had breakfast at the Front Line Club with some very clever people who asked the same question.

With BBC layoffs, what would happen if half of those leaving got together with VC money to launch an alternative network.

And if you think that's absurd, Channel One TV 18 years ago, which I worked for, ran a 24 hour station with a handful of staff - everything was either automated or staff were multiskilled.

I'll post about 10 minutes of Channel One for you to judge.

Many years on we're no longer reliant on cable, which Channel One was, as an alternative to terrestrial and Satellite.

The Net is now truly coming alive. The BBC's Iplayer will have imperceptibly shifted a generation, whom previously will have seen little use for watching TV on the web. And with that the gates are well and truly open.

David Dunkley Gyimah will be speaking at the World Association of Newspaper Forum in Sweden on Digital media training for the new newsroom.

Four hundred editors from all over the globe came to the 14th World Editors Forum in Cape Town in June 2007, the largest meeting of its kind anywhere. We hope that an even greater number will join us in Göteborg, Sweden, in 2008.

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