MediaTel Playground 2014

Katy Garner-Foy, Media Manager, went to the MediaTel Playground event last week. Here’s a write-up:


An interesting (if rather data & tech heavy) session at The MediaTel playground– the dominant theme for the day was Connected Platforms.

TV is the gateway to the first generation of the ‘Smart Home’ of the future

Since TV content is avidly and broadly consumed by the majority of the UK, it has the power to get a mass audience to invest in upgrading their home technology. Upgrading to the latest generation of connected TVs / set top boxes already allows people to receive and interact with a whole variety of content across multiple platforms i.e. smart home entertainment systems that provide internet access, live TV streaming and access to various VoD platforms.

As a result, broadcasters that offer the most evolved consumer platforms are leading the way. Market leaders enable people to receive and consume content across multiple devices in an efficient, connected and joined up way (e.g. BskyB, BT, Virgin).

The ultimate goal is to offer a whole home ‘media server’ (not just a PVR or VoD server) that is fully networked across all rooms in your house (as well as your mobile devices). The user experience should be seamless and take into account how content is adapted to suit the behavioural use of all connected devices.

MediaTel suggested that broadcasters’ ability to offer this kind of integrated ‘media server’ technology is the key to them gaining a competitive advantage

However, this raises the question of how exclusive content might play a role in this – it would seem fair to assume that content must also come into the competitive advantage equation i.e. if by upgrading to the next generation Sky ‘media server’ you would no longer be able to access BT Sport (in a bid from BT to retain customers) then some people might think twice! A great quote to back up this thinking came from Yana Eisenstein from Videology:

“Technology is great but it’s generally not very interesting on its own”

Where this kind of smart connected technology is valuable is in how it might allow individuals / broadcasters / advertisers to shape integrated content solutions to their advantage. Importantly this is also a big challenge, as how the centralised ‘media server’ takes into account the way in which each connected device is used, and therefore adapts the content in a relevant & intuitive way, will surely be key to its success!

Alongside the broadcasters, it’s worth noting that similar innovations from existing online platforms such as Amazon (Prime) and Google (Chromecast) also bring us closer to this vision of smart ‘whole home’ connectivity.

Regarding data, opportunities for integrated data capture that could provide a holistic understanding of audience behaviour and media consumption across multiple devices is potentially very interesting.

However, data and analytics on these kinds of platforms are currently a big issue – the ability to discern individual users who are all simultaneously connected across multiple devices through one centralised ‘media server’ is challenging and hasn’t really been fully resolved. Standardising the metrics and data collection across traditionally disparate platforms will be key to developing a holistic understanding of audiences. Sky Adsmart is currently one of the most sophisticated examples of a broadcaster trying to do this across their platforms.

Another VERY important factor affecting the reality of everyone becoming smart connected platform users is that UK internet services are lagging way behind developments in technology hardware.

Broadband penetration in the UK overall is still relatively poor (if you’re 5 miles outside Norwich it’s apparently very likely that your internet speed is similar to that of the remoter parts of the Greek islands!).

So…as great as the vision of this connected future might sound (if certainly not yet a reality) I’d say there were two simple key take-outs in the short term:

  • Content is still key in terms of seducing users to connected services
  • Dynamic ways of adapting content across devices will become increasingly sophisticated. Therefore, any small ways that we can test dynamic and integrated use of content across multiple platforms will put us ahead of the game as the next generation of ‘whole home’ smart, connected and cross platform media servers hit the market

I’d also recommend checking out more info on  the below exhibitors from the media playground area –

Newsflare act as content brokers, taking video you’ve captured from your smartphone (usually) and selling it on to publishers for you. The more newsworthy the content is, the more money you can make! (they obviously also make a ‘small’ fee)

The Bakery facilitate connections between tech developers / agencies and brands to help bring innovative technology solutions to people/market faster

Sky IQ are currently partnering with Dunhumby to combine their customer behaviour analysis with Sky IQ’s viewing panel to create “segment-level insights” to investigate the link between TV advertising and purchasing decisions


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