Exclusive interview with VirginMedia’s Paul McDonough, who reveals the media giant’s thoughts on TV’s ongoing, and breakneck, evolution.
IP&TV News: What have been the latest developments, challenges and technologies for VirginMedia in delivering IPTV directly to the television set?
Paul McDonough: We’ve been experimenting in various technologies; the use of HTML5 code standards to help improve the STB experience; becoming the only TV STB Provider to supply OTT services like Netflix directly from our TiVO boxes and experimenting with multiscreen integration; controlling TiVO playback and functions from a phone or tablet.
With the expanding market in Smart and IPTV there are future opportunities to expand into this space but it isn’t something we are actively looking at yet; we still feel an STB solution offers a far greater and streamlined service in 2014.
And you think the set top box has a future? If so, what will that future look like?
The set top box is slowly moving away from just linear TV channels. By adding new apps and services it’s becoming a content portal to services like iPlayer, Netflix and more. The future of the set top box is a gateway to exciting content discovery and personalised recommendations.
Do you think that all TV will eventually be streamed? If so, what are the main obstacles between that point and the present?
In an ideal world, yes, but there are significant infrastructure and network capacity challenges that have to be overcome first. HD streaming is accounting for a 50%+ year on year increase in the amount of bandwidth customers are starting to use. Only when network and technology limitations are overcome will a truly 100% streaming solution be a real option for ISPs.
What fundamental changes to home entertainment do you think this transformation or tendency will effect?
People will start to move away from TV as the only medium to watch content. Most customers now watch their sports content while on the go, at work at their desk or on their tablets while enjoying a summers day outside. Home entertainment is about delivering an optimal experience in a multiscreen world and allowing users to seamlessly switch between each with ease and simplicity.
What qualities do you think can best assure success in such a competitive and innovative era?
Standing still on your laurels is only going to spell disaster for any provider. The mobile age is here and the rate of innovation advances at an alarming rate – and is only going to continue. Forward thinking and ambitious projects to deliver systems and services that will address customer demand in three years is going to be much better then chasing the tail end of what customers want now. It’s a moving goalpost and we need new and exciting solutions to new challenges to deliver the best experience or providers will always be playing catch up with consumer wants. It’s all about setting the standard instead of trying to follow it.
Is this a particularly pivotal year for the evolution of cloud TV? As such, is this a particularly good time to attend TV in the Cloud?
I think it’s an exciting time for a true push towards ‘Cloud TV’ in the marketplace. Internet speeds are starting to hit levels that can maintain a true HD stream over WiFi to multiple devices in the home and on the go. It’s a fantastic time to visit the TV in the Cloud conference to start seeing this innovation with your own eyes and see what next twelve months holds for streaming technologies.
Paul McDonough will appear at this year’s TV in the Cloud Summit (collocated with the CDN World Summit), 1-2 October, 2014, London. For booking and more info go here.