Thursday, June 22, 2006

Asian Broadcasters told: "Change or Die"

Singapore -- For the first 60 years of broadcast television, the broadcast industry was restrained by analog technology using frequency and bandwidth guzzling technology and political controls. In the 1990s, the conversion to digital broadcasting technology started. Internet came along, and with it greater consumer choices that opened up across the spectrum of telecommunications, radio and TV broadcasting and telephony.

Now we are in the 21st Century. For those in the broadcast industry the challenges may seem overwhelming coming from every conceivable new technological advance.

Broadcasting per se is now being shaken to core values. Mind sets of traditional broadcasting ethics and standards are no more. On June 20, 2006 Jeffrey Soong, of Hong Kong-based, Broadband Network Systems addressed the CommunicAsia 2006 conference audience with a succinct message to digital broadcasters, Cable TV operators and broadband entities which basically said: "Change or Die".

Soong's reality check to change the established industry mind set to handle today's Entertainment World is covered in the following Q & A with [Digital Broadcasters Vendor News Asia's Gerald Brown]:

[Gerald Brown] From your perspective, what are the realities for industry players in the Entertainment World in the 21st Century?

[Jeffrey Soong] It is the Emergence of new platforms - the i-pod, Mobile Phone and the PC Game Console. For Consumers they are moving from being a group of **["massive passives" to "gadgetiers" and for the young generation, the "cool kids"] thriving on interactivity, engaging in, and with the entertainment being offered. For the content owners/providers, the new platforms create two great and fresh opportunities: 1. New Revenue Streams and 2. the Ability to Assert Brand values.

[Gerald Brown] Taking these developments forward, in practice what does this mean for participants?

[Jeffrey Soong] What is happening is that Power is shifting away from the recognised satellite and terrestrial channels - names we all know so well - as the drivers of content production. That 'old' system was a vertical supply chain comprised mainly of TV, Movies and Music producers. They supplied the TV networks/channels, who would then distribute via terrestrial transmission, broadcast satellite and cable/broadband operators to reach consumers via their TVs and radios. The 'new' way, is what I term the 'New Media Ecosystem' which sees Content Producers continuing to make content for the broadcasters but now tailor-made for the array of new distribution platforms - IPTV, iTunes, Games Consoles, Search Engines, TiVO, etc. It is the consumers (users) of these new interactive platforms, who are driving content needs across all the delivery platforms, with the "massive passives" rapidly declining as economies mature and grow in audio and video entertainment sophistication. [Gerald Brown] It appears that new platform delivery is itself changing fast. How would you describe it? [Jeffrey Soong] : As technology advances, we are going from a more basic level of interactivity and innovation to being 'truly' innovative and interactive. Think about services such as Network PVR, home surveillance, video conferencing, two-way broadcasting, interactive gaming, personal jukebox and SMS on TV...to Internet Video Search with IPTV Display; Mobile/IPTV Convergence; Home Networking; Remote Video Access for those travelling; Video Podcasting on IPTV; P2P multicasting and so on. The opportunities are mindboggling.

[Gerald Brown] It appears that new platform delivery is itself changing fast. How would you describe it?

[Jeffrey Soong] : As technology advances, we are going from a more basic level of interactivity and innovation to being 'truly' innovative. We are moving from those basic services we have become used to in the last few years, such as Network PVR, home surveillance, video conferencing, two-way broadcasting, interactive gaming, personal jukebox and SMS on TV...to Internet Video Search with IPTV Display; Mobile/IPTV Convergence; Home Networking; Remote Video Access for those travelling; Video Podcasting on IPTV; P2P multicasting and so on.

[Gerald Brown] What key advice do you give to CEOs in this rapidly advancing industry to improve the bottom line and stay competitive?

[Jeffrey Soong] 1. Be Aware of the emerging Power of new broadcast delivery platforms. 2. Design a bespoke, highly flexible platform for quick and easy addition of new services. 3. Learn how to monetise now trends in content creation and distribution, across multiple access platforms with innovative business models. 4. Position your platform as the pivotal point for providing all entertainment needs. 5. Co-operate with, and get close to the content community. The platform provider needs to be able to understand the potential of new and emerging technologies. 6. Finally a caution! Beware of becoming locked into a closed proprietary delivery system at the expense of being able to incorporate a myriad of free and Pay-TV programming.

[Gerald Brown] When you meet the CEOs of digital broadcasters and channels around Asia-Pacific how do you pitch, what you term the "BNS Value Proposition"?

[Jeffrey Soong] BNS is an IPTV enabler, so we offer comprehensive, field proven solutions for IPTV deployment and management. This includes a three-pronged approach comprising what we call the three cornerstones of a successful IPTV service: Strategy, Content and Technology. We believe that only when these three areas are addressed at the same time, operators will be able to create a flexible and future proof service that will maximise their investment.

[Gerald Brown] Mr Soong, thank you for telling us how traditional broadcasters, channels and broadband operators should move forward to capitalise on the sea change in consumer choices in entertainment as part of your company's doctrine of "Empowering broadband TV".

[Jeffrey Soong is CEO of Broadband Network Systems, Hong Kong]

**Massive Passives", "Gagetiers" and "Cool Kids" are all descriptions coined by IBM.**

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