"Connected" and "cloud" - mind your language! (Part 1)

Over the series of two blogs we'll be comparing the differences between "connected broadcasting" and "cloud TV". This is part one.

Are you aware of the differences between a 'connected' and 'cloud' TV offering?

Are you aware of the differences between a 'connected' and 'cloud' TV offering?

Background

Back in August, we described the evolution of television through three phases (simple, multi-channel and multi-function). It is currently in the throes of a fourth (“connected broadcasting”), and will eventually transition to a fifth (“total cloud television”). The terms “connected” and “cloud” are often used interchangeably – implying there’s no difference, and suggesting that we’re further down the road of television evolution than reality.

Over the course of this two part blog series, we'll look to compare the similarities and differences apparent within "connected broadcasting" and "cloud TV" ecosystems. Part one will closely examine distribution, consumption and push/pull factors, whilst part two further explores storage and linear issues before then finishing with our final thoughts. Below is part one:

Distribution

The first distinction between connected broadcasting and cloud television is perhaps the most simple: the way in which content is delivered to the end-user. Currently channels are delivered via DTT (Freeview, YouView), digital satellite (Sky, Freesat) or cable (Virgin).  These platforms occasionally allow for the delivery of channels over IP. Widespread IP delivery, be it for linear (i.e. scheduled) or non-linear content, would be integral to a total cloud TV universe. We discuss this in more detail below.

It’s a common misconception that “connected broadcasting” is the same as “cloud TV”. But what’s the difference?

Consumption

For far too long, the death of linear television to on-demand viewing, at the hands of IP, has been forecast. A total cloud TV universe implies the majority of content being consumed in a “true VOD” fashion. 

The picture in the UK today is extremely different. The majority of content is still watched via linear channels, either live or time-shifted: BARB, the UK audience measurement body, report that between 2011 and 2013 average daily linear viewing remained robust at around 242 minutes. This is backed up by Decipher’s Mediabug research, which found that live broadcast TV makes up around 74% of total TV viewing, with “time-shifted” viewing making up around 7%.  The remaining 19% is comprised of various forms of on-demand viewing.

“Pushing” and “pulling”

An era of connected broadcasting is one – as now - in which the personal video recorder (PVR) offers functionality to not only record, but also to access a combination of VOD content “pulled” by the consumer but also “pushed” by the platform.  The PVR allows, say, a Sky subscriber to record episodes of a drama series as they are broadcast live. The connected PVR also allows them to visit the catch-up section on their Sky+HD box and “pull” (i.e. download) other episodes. Finally, certain VOD content is also “pushed” to the STB.  Next time you visit the “Sky Showcase” section, notice content that has a small play symbol next to it.  This has been “pushed” by Sky to the PVR and is ready to play.

In a total cloud TV universe, although the platform or service could “push” content, much of the consumer activity would be “pulling”. This, the Netflix model (so to speak), is the essence of cloud television: an IP consumption experience entirely at the viewer’s choosing, divorced from linear scheduling, with storage in the cloud.

Part two is available here.

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