Video services

NBC Exec: IPTV's No Big Deal

LAS VEGAS -- NAB 2006 -- Broadcasters see IPTV as a new distribution channel they should play in, but many don’t regard the technology as inherently better or more profitable than cable or satellite TV.

Such is the overriding point of view expressed here as executives from the broadcasting and IPTV industries sit on panels with evangelists for mobile, broadband, and other alternative video distribution models.

“I look at it as an additional distribution channel that is coming into play,” NBC Universal VP of Technology Standards, Policy, and Strategy, Glenn Reitmeier told Light Reading. “Traditionally we had cable, then we had satellite come in as a competitive platform, and now we’re seeing this third kind of platform for multi-channel and on-demand kind of content.

“I think it has a lot of capacity. But I’m not sure there’s anything there that’s particularly relevant to broadcasters.”

During the panel itself, Reitmeier seemed much more concerned about the danger of P2P piracy than about the opportunity of next-generation distribution networks.

Reitmeier’s ho-hum take on IPTV is nothing new to the IPTV people here. “It’s just another distribution channel,” said Kasenna Inc. CEO Mark Gray, summing up the broadcasters’ view. (See NCTA: Cable's IP Appreciation Party.)

Gray says broadcasters have become used to a unidirectional distribution process where content is sent downstream and no feedback comes back from the consumer. He believes they need to think outside the (cable) box. “You’ve got this wonderful two-way plant -- [they’ve] got to think bi-directional. Don’t think about what the cable operators have had to do all these years with what is really a unidirectional plant,” Gray told Light Reading. (See Kasenna Boasts Shipments.)

Many believe that IPTV’s payoff for the broadcasters and their distributors will come in the form of ad revenue. The IP video network’s interactive nature promises the ability to target advertising to consumers based on consumer viewing habits, and track the effectiveness of specific advertising spends. (See Google Searches for TV Guy.)

“You know it’s that old saying where you know half of your advertising dollars are being wasted, you just don’t know which half -- well here you have a way to track it,” Digeo Inc. COO Greg Gudorf told Light Reading.

Gudorf said consumers also might feel better served if advertisers know more about them their likes and dislikes: “I don’t mind watching ads if they’re the ads I want to watch."

Digeo’s Moxi product is a “digital media center” that brings together the viewer’s VOD content, broadcast channels, photos, music, and gaming all in one interface. Most of the Digeo’s business is with cable companies today, but Gudorf says trials are underway with some small telco TV players. (See Digeo, Comporium Trial IPTV.)

Kasenna’s Gray adds that folks in the broadcast industry aren’t entirely to blame for the misunderstanding of IPTV. “The operators themselves are just now coming to grips with it, but the content providers -- they really haven’t gotten it,” he told Light Reading.

The growing IPTV industry commands an even bigger presence here at the NAB show this year than it did last year, but the broadcast industry's perception of the new distribution channel doesn't seem to have changed much in the meantime.

“I think we tend to look at new opportunities through the vantage point of our existing glasses,” says Digeo’s Gudorf.

— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading

materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 3:56:09 AM
re: NBC Exec: IPTV's No Big Deal As service providers install "Layer-2+" boxes at the edge, does that mean they they too foresee unidirectional, downstream flows? These L2+ boxes may be cheap, but perhaps their lack of intelligence gets reflected in an inflexible network. Would true edge routers enable more bi-directional, and peer-to-peer flows?

All of these guys seem to dread peer-to-peer. Is seems like you cannot get upstream flows without allowing some peer-to-peer in the door. Without upstream flows, perhaps users will just open their notebooks and use the bandwidth in those 190-odd WiMax muni networks being planned. Without user traffic, those peer-to-peer problems do go away.
paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 3:56:09 AM
re: NBC Exec: IPTV's No Big Deal
I think the reason to avoid edge routers are:

1 - Cost: Edge Routers are a lot more expensive than ethernet switches.

2 - Opex: Routers are a lot more complicated to operate than swtiches.

rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 3:56:08 AM
re: NBC Exec: IPTV's No Big Deal 2 - Opex: Routers are a lot more complicated to operate than swtiches.

In my limited experience L2 may be easier to intially configure than L3 but it's also much harder to troubleshoot. I don't administer a big network though and I wonder if those that do find this to be the case.
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