Freesat Discusses Innovation in FTA TV

A presentation on free-to-air (FTA) TV was given by Matthew Huntington – appropriately, as he is the CTO of FTA satellite platform, Freesat.

FTA TV requires many players to work together. Freesat had run a workshop earlier in the day looking at four topics: UltraHD, OTT players, analytics & cloud technology and globalisation. The aim was to gather opinions on the opportunities for, and threats to, FTA TV.

On UltraHD, participants were worried that the format would drive people to pay-TV, if FTA doesn’t embrace it. There is a risk of become a second-rate service. Concerns were raised about spectrum availability, although some favoured quality of programming over quantity.

The next question was ‘Do strong OTT players help FTA TV?’ Respondents believed that SVoD services help FTA by providing competition, although – echoing an earlier presentation – there were concerns about a dedicated Netflix button. An effort is needed to integrate and federate these services, to compete with pay-TV’s ‘one stop shop’.

Survey participants felt that cloud technology could help to lower the barrier to entry for new content providers, threatening those that exist today. There are some concerns about legal issues in cloud DVR, as well.

Finally, when asked “How can UK FTA TV compete on the world stage?”, respondents said that there was a need to be careful, as the UK doesn’t have the scale to support bespoke solutions. We must follow international standards.

Freesat will write all of this information up in a white paper, which will be published through the DTG.

Analyst Comment

The comment about rights in cloud DVRs raised an interesting point. I was discussing cloud VRs at IBC last year and heard that my assumption that cloud DVRs only mean that a single copy of the content was stored, with a pointer and metadata for the individual viewer details. It turns out that some rights contracts insist that an individual copy is held for every viewer! (BR)