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RTL: “Connected TV needs a mature OS to grow”

Jan Paul Dekker, RTL

Jan Paul Dekker, RTL

Jan Paul Dekker, Manager of Digital Productions at Dutch broadcaster RTL, discusses his most recent projects, the potential he sees for DRM technology, and the current limitations of connected TVs from a user’s perspective.

Jan Paul will be speaking at the TV Connect 2013 event taking place in London on 19-21 March 2013. For more information and to register, please visit www.tvconnectevent.com

Hi Jan Paul! Firstly can you tell us a little about your recent work on delivering RTL content in new ways?

RTL has the largest broadcast market share in The Netherlands. Twelve years ago I setup RTL’s online video infrastructure with my team – mainly catchup services. We’ve since grown a thousandfold in terms of usage.

Although much of the infrastructure has stayed the same, there have been some big changes in the market in recent years, namely growth in smartphone penetration, for which we have completely re-engineered our video streaming platform.

We are also preparing for connected TVs. Although penetration is still very low, we have no doubt that connected TVs will be by far the biggest consumer for video bandwidth, due to the high demands it involves for quality, duration and usage. Connected TV needs a mature OS to grow, like the smartphone has, and it is only a matter of time.

Managing the diversity in video formats on all devices has been the biggest challenge. RTL Nederland mixes different video business models. We provide free catchup in combination with renting live shows, series, and movies.

This demands a lot of flexibility from our infrastructure. We are integrating two different DRM license servers on top of our current WM10/Playready license servers (Marlin, Adobe Access, PlayReady).

Do you agree with recent reports that demand for multi-screen is going to drive greater sales of DRM technology?

With many manufacturers licensing either Marlin or PlayReady, providing streaming support and moving to MPEG DASH, the future of DRM software looks great.

I sincerely hope we don’t get the complex and expensive market that exists in the mobile market. If Google, Apple, and Microsoft move into the TV/STB market that could potentially lead to the same situation – and I think they will.

iTunes abandoned DRM on its music in favour of ease of use and exchangeability. Something similar could happen to video and that would be the end of DRM.

DRM is about controlling the whole chain, I think we should manage the exceptions with personal watermarking for example. DRM has never been user friendly.

What do you see as being the biggest current limitations of connected TVs from a user’s perspective?

Many users have different STBs for different uses. Usually (not always) a rudimentary box with the most primitive interface is used: the one which delivers live TV.

Most of the connected TVs are less capable of handling an interface than my phone. Besides that, the systems are not connected and have overlapping services.

How do you plan to engage viewers more closely with RTL content in 2013?

Making our second and first screen services available on more devices. Integrating more services in one total experience. I can’t be more specific since we’re still in development.

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