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ThE MaStEr

Battle for the button


The TV will be connected, but what will viewers connect to it, asks Julian Clover?

Amid all the talk of connected TV and the TV Everywhere concept designed to extend the reach of pay-TV to all manner of companion devices it may be wise not to overlook where it all started. The kids may have a TV in their bedroom, but they still return to the front room for the X Factor or Dancing with the Stars, so what kind of environment will greet them.

Well if YouView has its way it will be the hybrid experience that combines what we now call Freeview, or to be picky DTT, with IP delivered catch-up, on demand and yet more linear channels. Sky and Virgin will both shout ‘no, me’ and while BT hopes that some YouView homes will also take on BT Vision; Google TV and Apple will also want their say. In continental Europe for YouView read HbbTV plus UPC, Canal et al.

The Clover television set is about five years old. I paid far too much money for a very nice Sony display. I’ve mentioned before that had I waited a few months longer I would have almost certainly saved on cost and gained the ability to switch directly to an HDMI input rather than a Scart.

Putting the type of connectors to one side, when I switch on I get Freeview, a couple of button pushes and I have Sky, one more for the jail broken, Apple TV, again for the DVD, again for the games console. Did I forget the multiple-satellite receiver? I may have more devices than is healthy, but a version of this is replicated in households up and down the land. The question is what will the device manufacturers do to ensure that their bit of kit gets connected to the prime slot. The domestic equivalent of 101 on the EPG.

Somehow each of the devices connected to our TVs has to sell itself to us and largely we’ll get to choose. The decision will be straightforward, whoever gets the best content gets the best slot and my hunch is that Google won’t be acquiring exclusive rights (I don’t mean clips) to the Premier League or ice hockey world championships any day soon.

My five year old set doesn’t let me prioritize HDMI as a later receiver might, but what if the manufacturer of a connected TV decides not to let you prioritize anything, so that the first thing you see is their connected portal, rather than the pay-TV service that has the direct debit.

Then there is Google and Apple. I use my Apple TV for relaying music across the house and for the BBC iPlayer, that’s the jail broken bit, if I was more into movies and less into sport then would Apple TV move up the pecking order? Maybe, but right now linear channels are still important enough to talk about last night’s episode of The Apprentice, rather than the third episode of series four.

October 28, 2010


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Battle for the button





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