IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) is a way of distributing television content over internet connection that enables a more customised and interactive user experience. IPTV will mean a fundamental change in viewing habits. Viewers will be able to watch what they want, when they wish to. Interactive TV services will be an important differentiator for the multitude of IPTV choices 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.
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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 order movies through video-on-demand (VOD). IPTV uses broadband ADSL, the same technologies 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.
Discover What’s On
All IPTV services will offer basic interactivity to support routing and search of the vast amounts associated with 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 programme listings up to two weeks in advance, as well as look back over programmes in the previous seven days broadcast schedule. An effective 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 audiences, who will be able to create their own line-up of favourite channels and content material. As well as full-screen layouts, EPGs will have a mini-overlay mode which will allow the viewer to keep watching the current programme 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 recorded. Viewers will be able to watch one programme while recording another. They’ll also be able to use interactive services or video on demand while saving in the background. While watching linear TELEVISION programming, viewers will be able to pause plus rewind live television.
The PVR will be programmed via the Electronic Program Guide. Intelligent series linking will allow programme episodes to be recorded based on preferences; first-runs, repeats, or all occurrences. Programme and movie trailers will contain interactive links which can be selected to schedule a recording. Remote control scheduling of recording will also be probable using a mobile phone or the web.
With IPTV, viewers can watch a lot more television at the same time. Sports activities 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 encouraged through voting, competitions and messaging 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 pamphlet. This will re-enforce the brand messages 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 can make it ideal for providing person-to-person communication services. Instant messaging services will allow viewers to ‘chat’ via text messages while continuing to watch TV. Video conference meetings over television will allow virtual family gatherings when family members are distribute across the world.
Services will be used each as stand-alone applications, and as add-ons to programming. Friends will be able to talk while watching a programme ‘together’ in different locations. Phone-in shows will be able to display callers, linked directly from their home.
IPTV will provide many feeds of news, entertainment and details. Viewers will be able to personalise their ‘feed reader’ to match their particular interests. This can then collect up-to-date information such as news headlines, sports results, share prices and travel updates in one place.
Dating services will allow subscribers to setup a profile and find compatible ‘matches’ to communicate with. Messages will be exchanged quickly, cheaply and safely, with no security concerns of meeting in the real world.
Betting & Gaming
IPTV will offer a range of betting and gaming on demand services. These includes sports betting services, where bets are placed on both live and virtual sports activities. The betting will be closely linked to the TV coverage, and will include in-running betting. There will also be a range of online casino style games including roulette, black jack, slots and poker. Some of these is going to be stand-alone games, others will be connected to programming with either live or even virtual presenters.
IPTV will enable the secure posting of video recordings, photos plus music. Users with a home system will be able to share digital content with other devices such as PCs and transportable media players. IPTV will be a key component in the connected home.
Users will also be able to share content with family and friends across the Internet. Effective digital articles protection with consumer flexibility will be essential for such sharing to grow. IPTV could even allow users to have their own television channel where they might share their views, photos and videos with all the rest of the world as a video podcast.
Interactive television will provide genuinely useful applications that enhance the general user experience of IPTV. Interactive providers must be seen as part of the overall system of delivering television – not only a bolt on.