IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) is a technique of distributing television content over broadband that enables a more customised and online user experience. IPTV will mean a fundamental change in viewing habits. Audiences will be able to watch what they want, when they want to. Interactive TV services will be a key differentiator for the multitude of IPTV offerings that are emerging. Interactivity via a fast two-way connection will lift IPTV ahead of today’s television.
IPTV draws together the television, internet and telephone. Much like cable or satellite television, IPTV utilizes a set-top box (STB) that allows audiences to watch hundreds of channels and purchase 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 thousands, 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, and also look back over programmes through the previous seven days broadcast schedule. A strong search facility will allow viewers to consider programmes by title, genre plus 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 series of favourite channels and content material. As well as full-screen layouts, EPGs will have a mini-overlay mode which will permit the viewer to keep watching the current programme while browsing the schedule.
Private Video Recorder
Many IPTV fixed top boxes will incorporate a Private 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 also be able to use interactive services or even video on demand while recording in the background. While watching linear TELEVISION programming, viewers will be able to pause and rewind live television.
The PVR will be programmed via the Electronic Programme Guide. Intelligent series linking will allow programme episodes to be recorded depending on preferences; first-runs, repeats, or all occurrences.
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Programme and movie trailers will contain interactive links that can be selected to schedule a recording. Remote control scheduling of recording will also be achievable 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 messages services.
Interactive advertising can extend traditional linear advertising. It is going to allow advertisers to give product info in the form of an on-screen interactive sales brochure. This will re-enforce the brand messages and encourage viewer involvement with the product. It will also allow a direct component to be added to any TV strategy, with responses being captured through viewers.
The two-way nature of an IPTV connection helps it be ideal for providing person-to-person communication services. Instant messaging services will allow audiences to ‘chat’ via text messages whilst continuing to watch TV. Video webinar over television will allow virtual loved ones gatherings when family members are spread across the world.
Services will be used both as stand-alone applications, and as addons to programming. Friends will be able to conversation while watching a programme ‘together’ in different locations. Phone-in shows will be able to screen callers, linked directly from their home.