A trade journal of a still-emerging field, written by Adam Tinworth.

Posts tagged TV

Silvia Killingsworth on Instagram ads:

Today I was fed a full commercial from Karlie Kloss, which was amazing because it was just a fully produced video ad like the ones you used to see on television when you used to watch live television.

And it is:

Yup, that’s a full-on TV advert. And it’s been commissioned and shot for play on Instagram.

It seems that social networks are becoming the new TV. And in that light the latest “Twitter for sale” rumour makes sense:

Walt Disney Co. is working with a financial adviser to evaluate a possible bid for Twitter Inc., according to people familiar with the matter.

Now streaming on Twitter

Why? Because Twitter is quietly becoming a video company. Mathew Ingram:

With its resources, Disney would be able to help Twitter improve its video streaming and possibly strike new deals with other content providers. As a result of a recent acquisition, Disney owns a stake in BAMTech, the digital arm of Major League Baseball, which runs streaming services for ESPN and others, including Twitter.

As John Gruber put it:

Twitter is a media company and a publishing service, not a social network.

Increasingly I wonder exactly what is a social network in 2016. Snapchat and WhatsApp are less social networks than communication tools. Instagram is a picture sharing service with comms element. Twitter is a publishing platform. Does that just leave Facebook?

Not everyone is certain about Disney making a good partner for Twitter, though:

But if you’re going to spend $18 billion, $20 billion, $30 billion on something, you need a little bit more than “I like the dude who runs the company.”

Bear in mind that Disney acquired Marvel AND Lucasfilm AND Pixar, for $15 billion. Is Twitter really worth as much to it as those three properties put together?

Some Doctor Who fans choose to embrace the 10th anniversary of the revived series by doing something creative like this:

Others choose to get all upset that a journalist (and Who fan) dared write something taking the mickey out of the show’s, err, weaker moments:

It lacks integrity. Perhaps Martin Belam would like to remind himself of the meaning of that word. It certainly doesn’t apply to selling out on your favourite TV show (his Twitter account page loves the soulless Cybermen) for a few quid.

It’s about ethics in Doctor Who journalism apparently.

This was my contribution to the festivities.

My eight-year old, Who-obsessed self would be so very proud.

Baby watching a connected TV
There are three things that don’t sit together very well:

  • Being interested in the future of connected TVs
  • Building up a consultancy career
  • Having a one year old child

Points two and three make point one surprisingly hard to explore. This is the reason that several weeks after I received it, I’m finally getting around to reviewing the NOW TV Box from SKY TV. Full disclosure: This was review unit supplied directly to me for purposes of review.

The NOW TV in its packaging

Why am I interested in this category of device? Because they have the potential to change our experience of TV in the same way that the internet has changed our experience of consuming news. When you pick and choose the content you want to watch, and buy or stream it over the internet, you’re no longer beholden to channels or the schedules. Even the rolling news channels start to change, when you can pick and choose the news package you want to watch.

I have two “smart TV” type devices already:

The NOW TV is cheap – about a tenth of the price of an Apple TV at a staggeringly low £9.99. It’s also small – smaller, in fact, than the AppleTV. There’s a cost to this – it’s a WiFi-only device, with no Ethernet option, for example. That won’t bother most people, but I’ve gone out of the way to wire out house for best performance, and there are days when we don’t have the WiFi on at all. Still, it makes it almost ludicrously easy to set-up: connect an HDMI cable, connect the power, and you’re off:
NOW TV set up screen

The interface is snappy and responsive, nearly on a par with the Apple TV, and certainly streets ahead of the often sluggish BT box. On my connection HD movies start streaming almost instantly – but that’s probably as much a function of my 70Mbs down Infinity connection than it is the service. The HD video quality is excellent, and it’s a pretty enjoyable experience.

It’s also easy to navigate around:

The NOW TV interface

Some apps clearly work better on this device. Using inlayer, for example, is much better on NOW TV than on BT Vision, despite having the sam,e interface on both devices. The NOW TV is just simply more responsive.

Stealth Roku

The interesting thing is that, despite all the SKY branding, this appears to be a Roku box in disguise – and that means Roku apps are in there as well. You can dive into the Roku Channels store and add all sorts of other channels to your main menu:

A stealth Roku?

I added Vimeo and TED Talks to mine, and they both work well. In many ways, this looks like a version of the Roku LT – but rather than paying £49.99 for the device, you’re paying £9.99 – but you need a NOW TV subscription for it to be any use. You can get all the NOW TV functions on the Roku box itself, once you pay a subscription, but it’s perfectly functional without one. So – one fifth the cost, but dependent on a subscription. Not a bad bargain.


For £9.99 this is a pretty incredible box. It’s clearly priced to move – and at that price you can afford to experiment. I suspect that it’s priced that way because all the revenue is in the monthly subscription. Movies start from £8.99 for a month’s subscription, and sports for £9.99 for a day pass. It’s great for regular movie watchers and occasional sports fans, rather oddly.

If you already have a streaming TV system, this isn’t really a compelling purchase. It doesn’t do anything unique – unless you really want SKY Sports on an occasional basis. However, if you’re just taking your first step into the world of connected TVs, then this is a fantastic and inexpensive way of experimenting. Certainly, I have family members I’d recommend this to over the Apple TV as a cheap and easy way of streaming movies on demand.

Most of all, it’s very interesting to see one of the biggest players in TV in the UK so actively targeting the connected TV market. This feels like an opening shot in what could become a very interesting battle to bring this technology mainstream.

Will I Use It?

Possibly – it depends on how it develops. It’s not going to displace my Apple TV. That carries my library of iTunes content, the ability to stream media from my computer and the ability to have subscription TV through Netflix. The device it directly threatens is the BT Vision box. That basically performs three functions:

  • Catch-up streaming
  • TV and film rental
  • PVR

The NOW TV does the first two option better, and more smoothly. It doesn’t do the latter at all. Does that matter to me? Probably not. In this time-challenged life I’m living, a PVR is becoming something that watches TV for me. I never go in and catch-up on those shows. Those I do care about, I either stream in HD from iPlayer or another catch-up service, or I forget about. I could easily swap out a big, clunk, noisy and hard-drive based device for a silent, tiny, solid state device, and get a better experience.

Still, until the NOW TV box gets catch-up from ITV and Channel 4, the BT box stays in place.

The crowd at NEXT Berlin 2012

Ah, I love NEXT. Unlike many tech-based conferences, which are very rooted in the now, they have a remarkable knack of looking about two years into the future, and giving you a sense of what the world might look like then. I’ve been working with them since January, and it’s one of the pieces of work I enjoy the most. Here’s all the liveblogging I did for them earlier in the month:
Day One
Day Two
Videos of all the sessions are flowing onto the site now. Loads of juicy brain food for you there!
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The River on iTunesABC is going to sell its new US series direct to UK iTunes users:

The much-anticipated new US thriller series “The River”, from Steven Spielberg, and Oren Peli, the creator of “Paranormal Activity”, is set to make its UK debut on iTunes ( on 8th February, just 24 hours after its US broadcast on ABC. iTunes customers will be first in the UK to see this chilling drama series. A Season Pass of all eight episodes of the much-anticipated show will be available to pre-order from today, with episodes one and two launching on 8th February.

The UK networks – non of which have bought the show – are cut out completely. It’ll be interesting to see how this goes…

[via The Medium is Not Enough]

mediapanel3.jpgA panel discussion the changes in media wrought by the latest technology, moderated by Thomas Crampton. Not surprisingly, Paul-François Fournier, Executive Vice President, Orange Technocentre defines media as, essentially, businesses that produce content, which is a pretty broad definition. Brad Garlinghouse, President, Consumer Applications & Commerce Group, AOL thinks that keeping traditional media away from the innovative, digital media is vital to stop new efforts being crushed.

Is Techmeme media? Gabe Rivera, Founder & CEO, thinks it is, even though they don’t write any of the content. The term “media” is overused, he suggests. When people say “media” they almost always think of broadcast media of various sorts. Bruno Patino, Senior Executive Vice President, Strategy Digital Director, France Télévisions Group & France 5 talks about the evolution of television and people start constructing social conversations online around TV shows as they watch them. This represents a loss of control for the media; they’re still in the game, they just don’t control it any more. And that’s not a bad thing. It maximises the experience.

Rivera suggests that most social media isn’t really integrated with existing media, just sort of bolted on the end. Very often tweets are just amplification or repetition. Fournier points out that media is changing on multiple fronts. TV is evolving into the multi-screen experience. Other media is now being published through social networks. There is lots of experimentation, and there will be failures and successes we learn from.

Patino argues that people don’t “deliver” the news any more, you give up control of your news when you publish it, and people will absurd it into their networks. The context in which we are telling stories is changing.
mediapanel1.jpgCrampton moves on the conversation from social to local. Social is about scale; local is the response. Garlinghouse reminds us that traditional media has struggled to fund local coverage for decades. Patch is AOL’s attempt to reverse that – targeted at areas of around 50,000 to 80,000 people. But he thinks Twitter is garbage – or at least he says as much before he starts back-peddling, throwing out the world platform instead. He thinks there’s a huge opportunity at the intersection of the social graph, the interest graph and the local graph. Crampton challenges the sustainability of the Patch model, and Garlinghouse says that the experiment will play out over the next few years. Some Patch sites are already profitable.

Scaleability is the key question, says Patino. We used to call local 500k to 600k. That’s not local on the web. The ground is changing everywhere, so the old volume business model just breaks.

Alexia Tsotsis from Techcrunch challenges the relevancy of local media. Patch is at about 10m uniques in 18 months – but it’s clearly a challenge, says Garlinghouse. But to say that local community is irrelevant is short-sighted at the very least. Patino thinks that we have to find a solution, so that local powers continue to be monitored. But Rivera wouldn’t do a local site. There are plenty already – and by definition, there isn’t much to aggregate and filter. The abundance just isn’t there. Garlinghouse points out that stories of national importance can start in local areas – it’s something like citizen journalism curated. The question is: are local merchants interested enough to advertise on the platform?

Is mobile passing the desktop for media yet Probably not, says Rivera. However Twitter says that over 50% of its activity is on mobile, and it’s over 30% for Facebook. Garlinghouse would like to see more customisation of news experience based on your social, mobile and interest graphs. Patino certainly thinks mobile is the new frontier for TV and very important. They’re looking at iPhone and iPad appellations that allow you to catch up with, and share, TV. And Fournier suggests their DailyMotion deal was driven by similar considerations.


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Apple Store Covent Garden

My AppleTV
I had cause to visit the brand new Apple Store in Covent Garden this morning; my AppleTV had developed the blinking amber light of death, and a visit to the Genius Bar was in order. 20 minutes later, it had been swapped out for a new one, and I was off to the Procter Street office. And I was happy. I love my AppleTV. I love being able to watch home movies easily on my HD TV, to be able to buy the video content I want, download it and watch it, and enjoy video podcasts from the comfort of my sofa. However, I know that such download/streaming services haven’t hit the mainstream, yet. 
However, the feeds I’d been catching up with on my iPad were full of the news that a brand new version of the AppleTV, to be called the iTV, may well be on its way, based on the iPhone OS (or iOS, as we should be calling it now), with apps and all. And that, in turn, reminded me of the Google TV effort on its way. Connected TV is here, and every effort is being made to push it mainstream. And what are the consequences of that?
Publishing, as a business, has been pretty slow to adapt to the mobile internet age. We’ve built entire corporate infrastructures based on two-channel publishing: print and the web. But devices that can access the internet are proliferating rapidly, and I suspect we’re moving towards a genuinely multi-channel age. And are we anywhere near ready to cope with some of our content being on internet-enables TVs?
Clearly the BBC is thinking about this, but then it has something of a head-start in the TV area. But it is, itself, a content company, that’s trying to adapt to a multi-platform strategy, just like the rest of us. And here’s the idea they’re pushing towards:
The BBC's multiplatform aspirations
You can find the whole thinking behind what they’re planning on the About The BBC blog
Now, clearly some of these moves are being driven by the BBC’s strategy review and the need to drive down costs. But I cna’t help find the clarity of what they’re doing appealing – start to reorganise around content types rather than output types (TV and radio are still in the chart, but you can think of them as video and audio entertainment content, and the pattern becomes clear). 
As the devices that people use to access content start to diversify, this seems like the only sane approach, otherwise the days of the web team fighting with the print team over a story will seem like a happy, bygone era, as multiple channel teams each fight over a story.,..
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