An interesting seminar this afternoon hosted by Channel 4 on the subject of connected TV’s. David Abrahams, C4’s CEO headlined the discussion by outlining where the company stands in respect to the ongoing rise of connected and smart TV’s.
Naturally the event was heavily geared toward YouView, the technology platform joint venture between C4, BBC, ITV, Channel 5, BT amongst others. This platform, we were told, will be reaching consumers towards the end of next year and clearly C4 are banking on it to deliver them the next generation of interactive entertainment experiences. But not content with just backing the technology C4 are proving how serious they are by restructuring their commissioning team to bring cross-platform into the very heart of what they do, they have also ring-fenced £2m to spend on YouView related formats in 2011.
Happily for us Abrahams mentioned The Million Pound Drop Live as a great example of the kind of connected TV experience C4 want to be doing more of, but what was more interesting was the realisation that these new TV experiences will be created not from the old, linear ways of making television, but from the new interactive starting points; TV should be taking its cues from video games not film.
Of course digital folk like me have bleating on about this kind of thing for years, but it’s still great to hear it echoed back from the people that can really influence things. What was less clear from the presentations this evening is just what YouView ‘is’ and what kind of interactivity toolbox we can start using to create these next-gen formats. It’s ‘open’ credentials as a platform are being billed as its killer feature, but we’re already seeing with platforms such as Google’s Android that it can be an Achilles heel also – fractured experiences across devices and often poor quality apps can sour the experience for users. If YouView can crack this and (crucially) make it simple for users to pay for TV apps then they could be onto something big; it will certainly be an interesting space over the next couple of years. There are a bunch of technical docs on the YouView website.. guess it’s time to take a look!