Binge viewing, a new addiction

Have you ever been stuck to a TV show, watching 4 episodes in a raw? From Game of thrones to Breaking bad more and more people cannot stop at the end of an episode. They watch it from their smartphone, computer, tablet, console, or smartTV

This new addiction is called Binge viewing or Binge watching. It spreads as fire with new SvoD (Subscription VoD) services such as Netflix (US), Watchever (Germany) or CanalPlayInfinity (France).

watcheverThe trend is accentuated by SvoD services releasing a whole season of a show at the same time. You’ve got 12 episodes at your finger tips.

This kind of abnormal behaviour is posing some serious issues to SVoD providers : their infrastructure need to cope with such huge demand, and they need to pay the content owner out of their 9€ p. month flat subscription fee. On the other hand operators face the same problem : they need to pay the bandwidth used for OTT (Over The Top) services from a flat broadband monthly fee.

The introduction of UltraHD will pose more questions as the traffic will grow three to four fold for the same content. The first mass production UHD TV sets will ship this year and there is no content offer on the market except piracy and VoD / SvoD services.

Binge viewing is posing serious threats to Svod providers and operators at the same time. Maybe it is time for message to warn for this addiction. Can you imagine before the 2nd episode of your favorite show a message such as “Binge viewing causes eye disease” or “Binge viewing is creating some real business model issues to your providers”?



Ikea commoditizing SmartTVs

Ikea is entering the SmartTV space as it has entered the washing machine market. You buy your piece of furniture from Ikea, why not buy the TV set that goes into the TV furniture?  What is really impressive with Ikea is that their TV are SmartTVs. ikea

On paper, they can easily compare with sets from Samsung, LG, Philips, etc. Without disclosing top secrets, Ikea TV sets are manufactured by TCL (Thomson brand) and they are using Netrange a German service aggregator for their portal.

In a though market, the real threat for manufacturers is this kind of new entrant. Ikea doesn’t care to have only 3/4% margin on TV sets. These TV sets will drive customers into its store where it will be easy to sell them items with a higher margin. Ikea TVs are there for good. Now it’s up to the weakest TV makers to re invent themselves or to disappear.


Improving the TV experience with HbbTV

I had the chance to attend the HbbTV Symosium in Paris last December. Here are some interesting slides I collected.

HbbTV is now really on the launching ramp.

ProSieben channel in Germany reports 1.4M connections of unique TV set to its HbbTV service per month with a growth of 20%.

HbbTV usage

More intersting is the usage of HbbTV to improve the experience of impaired people.

Sign language assistance is available through HbbT for hearing-impaired

HbbTV hearing impaired

Improved contrast and font size are also available for visually impared people.

HbbTV visualy impaired

So HbbTV is not only introducing interactive advertizing as one often reduces it, but also improving the whole TV experience.

SmartTV Alliance getting momentum

The SmartTV or Connected TV is basically a TV set with added features:

  • Digital Terrestrial TV (DTT) receiver
  • Internet connection capabilities
  • A processor, enough memory and OS to run a web browser
  • A SDK to develop compatible applications or services

SmartTV principle

Whereas IPTV covers today the same but the Internet part is provided through a set-top-box usually provided by the ISP.

SmartTV are still not featuring standardized OSes. The OS part is usually based on a Linux distribution customized by the manufacturer or the chipset vendor. Some Chinese manufacturers are starting to base their OS on customized Android.

The SmartTV Alliance led by LG, Toshiba and Philips is clearly a signal that manufacturers don’t want to give the keys of their TV ecosystem to Google, Microsoft or others. The Smart TV Alliance is set to release a common SDK to simplify the work of developers. An application based on this SDK will run without any change on all LG, Philips and Toshiba SmartTVs.

But will it be enough? Will manufacturers have enough time to strengthen their TV stronghold before the barbarians aka Google and Co try to take it by storm?

HbbTV on the path to become a global standard

HbbTV is slowly taking ground outside France and Germany its two promoters. Many countries in Europe have adopted the new standard for interactive TV: from Spain to Denmark around 10 countries are now in. .

Even the UK is considering joining the fray as the Digital TV Group has submitted a document for inclusion in HbbTV 2.0 specifications.

Here is as of today the picture of the HbbTV penetration across Europe.

But HbbTV is also considered outside Europe with trials going on in the US, Australia, Japan and China.

It reminds me of the early stage of GSM in the 90s when a group of countries created a world standard that enabled a whole industry to take off. But it didn’t happen over night.