IP&TV News talks to Taahir Hoorzook, Manager of Digital Distribution, Al Jazeera, about its plans for next generation innovation…
IP&TV News: Hi Taahir. In terms of innovative services, what have been the most exciting developments at Al Jazeera this year – and what innovations are you planning for 2014?
The most exciting development in 2013 was the launch of our Smart TV Apps. This allows for amazing experiences for both English and Arabic speaking audiences by providing them with live and VOD content, options to create playlists and notifications of new favourited episodes.
For 2014 we’re planning on innovating our digital video offering by;
1) offering a seamless experience across all smart devices.
2) providing a truly immersive web video experience through an updated video portal
3) enhancing the social sharing and discovery of content across all of our digital services.
How do you anticipate the balance between linear and OTT services will develop?
The consumer will determine the balance. We’re already seeing a shift by the traditional operators who are moving to provide OTT services to their subscribers in a bid to stem the likelihood that they will cord cut. OTT is a reality and it will alter the traditional TV business.
Al Jazeera has understood that people behave and consume content differently on different platforms. We believe that audiences don’t want to consume traditional TV on mobile devices – but mobile content on mobile devices. This understanding is altering the way that we produce news, we have started to produce content for specific platforms rather than tailor TV to smart devices.
Do you think the developments in TV pose an intrinsic threat to content quality? If not why not?
No, digital and UGC have provided us with new genres of content and new ways of publishing content, however professionally produced content is still in high demand. This is evident in series like Netflix’s “House of Cards”, the newly released “Inside Mitt” and the Oscar nominated documentary “The Square”.
People want content that informs, entertains and captivates them. The studios just have increased competition, which would actually improve content quality.
What distribution challenges do OTT and cloud present?
OTT and cloud present opportunities rather than challenges. The major challenge is the evolution of traditional distribution platforms into more open platforms that look at new sources of revenue rather than focusing only on the protection of existing revenue streams.
OTT’s challenge will remain the provision of high quality video on networks where Internet speeds are slow and not stable.
In the broadest possible sense, what is Al Jazeera’s vision for the future of TV?
Content is King as the cliché goes. AJMN will continue to ensure that honest, fair, unbiased news and current affairs content is professionally produced, and made available to the largest possible audience through its vision of “content everywhere”.
You’ll be appearing at TV Connect Asia in April. What is the advantage of attending an event like this?
Learning new trends in this fast changing industry as well as meeting and sharing experiences with industry and thought leaders.
Taahir Hoorzook will be appearing at TV Connect Asia, 2014 (29-30th April, Suntec, Singapore). For booking and info go here