IPTV Forum Eastern Europe - morning sessions Day 2


Day 2 of the IPTV Forum Eastern Europe opened with a few market observations by conference chairman Sebastian Becker, MD of Munich-based consultancy thebrainbehind: "We've had many IPTV deployments in this region in the last few years, but many are still offering dissatisfying usability, interaction and monetisation returns," he said.

"Hybrid operators are waiting for 'pure' IPTV players to sort through some of the major issues," he added, before giving a demonstration of some interactivity examples, including Widgets on Verizon's 'FiOS TV' service, which he described as one of the better implementations on the global market. He did however go on to caution: "As an operator, you have to ask - what do you want to achieve with interactivity? Do people really want to chat whilst watching programmes? Or is this interactivity for its own sake?"

The first keynote speaker of the morning was Thierry Briers, Marketing Manager of Interactive Services at Belgian telco Belgacom, which has offered IPTV since 2005 and clocked 589,000 subscribers as of the end of last June. Mr. Briers stated that while the telco has been steadily building up its video-on-demand library to over 700 titles (in both French and Dutch), this has given rise to content navigation problems: "The problem is that this [VOD] library is getting larger every day, which poses the question: how can we help our customer find his way around this library?"

Mr. Briers then went on to run down the major milestones in marketing for Belgacom TV, which include the launch of Belgacom TV Magazine in 2007, distributed to every subscriber and including programme listings and editorial; the launch of the Belgacom TV website in 2008, offering product information and the channel lineup, amongst other information; and the launch earlier this year of Belgacom TV Movie Zones, featuring the channels Belgacom Premiere, Belgacom Family and Belgacom Adrenaline.

"We are definitely investigating content recommendation engines also, as we firmly believe that this will help content consumption and improve the customer experience," he added. Responding to a question from the audience, Mr. Briers also gave an insight into the telco's thorny relationship with adult content - as the question indicated, Belgacom is majority-owned by the state and is thus restricted from enthusiastically marketing its adult content, despite its popularity: "We have colleagues from the top saying 'don't do that' [promote adult content on the service]."

Following Mr. Briers was Ian McDonough, VP Commercial Development EMEA for BBC Worldwide, who emphasised the appeal of IPTV to content houses: "The emergence of IPTV in this region is really very exciting," he said. He also stated his belief that channel brands will survive in the EMEA region: "Linear TV won't die, but the delivery mechanisms will change. We launched 12 channels across EMEA in 2008, and we see no reason for demand to vanish."