IPTV

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IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) is a method of distributing television content over broadband that enables a more customised and interactive consumer experience. IPTV will mean a fundamental alternation in viewing habits. Viewers will be able to watch what they want, after they want to. Interactive TV services is a key differentiator for the multitude of IPTV offerings that are emerging. Interactivity via a fast two-way connection will lift IPTV before today's television.

IPTV fuses the television, internet and telephone. Comparable to cable or satellite television, IPTV works on the set-top box (STB) that allows viewers to watch hundreds of channels and order movies through video-on-demand (VOD). IPTV uses broadband ADSL, precisely the same technology that delivers high-speed Internet to the pc. This opens the door to much more interactivity and the potential for thousands, as opposed to hundreds, of channels.

Find What's On

All IPTV services will offer you basic interactivity to aid navigation and search with the vast amounts of content. A digital programme guide (EPG) will permit viewers to investigate linear and on-demand content which can be found.

EPGs are likely to allow viewers to consider programme listings up to two weeks in advance, plus look back over programmes in the previous seven days broadcast schedule. A strong search facility enables viewers to look for programmes by title, genre and keywords. Filters allows viewers to display lists of movies, music, pay-per-view events and also definition programmes.

IPTV

The EPG will probably be customisable by viewers, that happen to be able to create their unique line-up of favourite channels and content. In addition to full-screen layouts, EPGs will have a mini-overlay mode that will allow the viewer to hold watching the current programme while browsing the schedule.

Personal Video Recorder

Many IPTV set top boxes will incorporate a Personal Video Recorder (PVR) that will permit programmes and interactive content to be recorded. Viewers can watch one programme while recording another. They'll also be able to use interactive services or video on demand while recording in the shadows. While watching linear TV programming, viewers are able to pause and rewind live television.

The PVR will likely be programmed via the Electronic Programme Guide. Intelligent series linking allows programme episodes to get recorded based on preferences; first-runs, repeats, or all occurrences. Programme and movie trailers contains interactive links that may be selected to schedule a recording. Remote scheduling of recording can also be possible using a cellphone or the web.

Enhanced TV

With IPTV, viewers can watch a lot more television simultaneously. Sports fans are able to keep an eye on six games simultaneously, on the same screen, or study one game from multiple camera angles. Viewer involvement will probably be encouraged through voting, competitions and messaging services.

Advertising

Interactive advertising will extend traditional linear advertising. It's going to allow advertisers to offer product information available as an on-screen interactive brochure. This will likely re-enforce the brand messages and encourage viewer involvement with all the product. It will also allow a primary element to be combined with any TV campaign, with responses being captured from viewers.

Communication Services

The two-way nature of your IPTV connection makes it suitable for providing person-to-person communication services. Im services will allow viewers to 'chat' via texting while continuing to watch a movie. Video conferencing over television will permit virtual family gatherings when relatives are spread across the world.

Services is going to be used both as stand-alone applications, so that as add-ons to programming. Friends can chat while watching a programme 'together' in numerous locations. Phone-in shows should be able to display callers, linked completely from their home.

Community Services

IPTV will provide many feeds of news, entertainment and information. Viewers will be able to personalise their 'feed reader' to complement their particular interests. This will then collect up-to-date information such as news headlines, sports results, share prices and travel updates in a single place.

Dating services will allow subscribers to set up a user profile and find compatible 'matches' to talk with. Messages will be exchanged quickly, cheaply and safely, with no security concerns of meeting in real life.

Betting & Gaming

IPTV will give you a range of betting and gaming when needed services. These will incorporate sports betting services, where bets they fit on both live and virtual sports. The betting will be closely linked to the TV coverage, and include in-running betting. There will also be a selection of casino style games including roulette, blackjack, slots and poker. Many of these will be stand-alone games, others will likely be linked to programming with either live or virtual presenters.

Personal Content

IPTV will let the secure sharing of video recordings, photos and music. Users which has a home network can share digital quite happy with other devices like PCs and portable media players. IPTV would have been a key component in the connected home.

Users will also be able to share quite happy with family and friends across the Internet. Effective digital content protection with consumer flexibility is going to be essential for such sharing to flourish. IPTV could possibly allow users to get their own television channel where they might share their views, pics and vids with the rest of the world like a video podcast.

Conclusion

Interactive television provides genuinely useful applications that improve the overall user experience of IPTV. Interactive services should be seen as part of the overall infrastructure of delivering television - not really a bolt on.

To obtain the right interactive services to satisfy consumer demands will demand experimentation. Content providers, broadcasters and network owners must develop, trial, refine and roll-out interactive services. A great deal has been learnt in the last ten years about interactive TV. This knowledge can help inform the style of interactive services for IPTV.