Stay focused on TV, says Virgin Media digital chief

Focusing on the TV experience rather than opening connected platforms out to a wide range of over-the-top interactive applications is likely to pay dividends for service providers and consumers alike, according to Ian Mecklenburgh, director of digital entertainment, CPE, at UK MSO Virgin Media.

Mecklenburgh, speaking at the Connected TV Summit this morning, reiterated that Virgin Media’s approach in building its next-generation TiVo-based TV platform was “through the middle rather than OTT”.  He said that a managed solution that delivered connected TV services through a dedicated managed network, with full provision of features including PIN protection and age ratings was best suited to consumer requirements. In addition, the delivery of an operator-managed service enabled Virgin Media to provide search and recommendation based on user preferences along with editorialized recommendation and promoted content (which is nevertheless identified as such on the user interface).

“We have added lots of interactive apps [but] it’s a TV experience as interactivity. Customers have computers – we have 65% triple-play penetration. They have computers to do computer stuff and many people have tablets and smartphones as well, so this has got be a new experience,” he said.

Mecklenburgh said that the top five UK terrestrial channels still accounted for 56% of audience share on the platform, with on-demand consumption growing rapidly. He said that Virgin Media had served close to 878 million on-demand sessions in 2010, delivering 430 million hours of content, with 20% of all BBC iPlayer views in the UK delivered via its platform.