IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) is a way of distributing television content over broadband that enables a more customised and interactive user experience. IPTV will mean a significant 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 products 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 uses a set-top box (STB) that allows viewers to watch hundreds of channels and purchase movies through video-on-demand (VOD). IPTV uses broadband ADSL, the same technologies that delivers high-speed Internet towards the computer. This opens the door in order to much more interactivity and the potential for thousands, as opposed to hundreds, of channels.
Find What’s On
All IPTV services will offer basic interactivity to support navigation 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 from your previous seven days broadcast schedule. An excellent search facility will allow viewers to look for programmes by title, genre plus keywords. Filters will allow viewers to display lists of movies, music, pay-per-view events and high definition programmes.
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The EPG will be customisable by viewers, who will be able to create their own line-up of favourite channels and content material. As well as full-screen layouts, EPGs may have a mini-overlay mode which will allow the viewer to keep watching the current program while browsing the schedule.
Private Video Recorder
Many IPTV established top boxes will incorporate a Personal Video Recorder (PVR) that will allow programs and interactive content to be recorded. Viewers will be able to watch one program while recording another. They’ll also be able to use interactive services or even video on demand while documenting in the background. While watching linear TV programming, viewers will be able to pause and rewind live television.
The PVR will be programmed via the Electronic Program Guide. Intelligent series linking enables programme episodes to be recorded depending on preferences; first-runs, repeats, or all of occurrences. Programme and movie trailers will contain interactive links that can be selected to schedule a recording. Remote control scheduling of recording will also be possible using a mobile phone or the web.
With IPTV, viewers will be able to watch a lot more television at the same time. Sports activities fans will be able to keep an eye on six online games at once, on the same screen, or research one game from multiple camera angles. Viewer involvement will be prompted through voting, competitions and messages services.
Interactive advertising will certainly extend traditional linear advertising. It is going to allow advertisers to give product details in the form of an on-screen interactive 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 marketing campaign, with responses being captured from viewers.
The dual end nature of an IPTV connection makes it ideal for providing person-to-person communication services. Instant messaging services will allow audiences to ‘chat’ via text messages while continuing to watch TV. Video webinar over television will allow virtual family gatherings when family members are distribute across the world.
Services will be used both as stand-alone applications, and as add-ons to programming. Friends will be able to chat while watching a programme ‘together’ in different locations. Phone-in shows will be able to screen callers, linked directly from their home.