iPlayer boss: smart TVs must adopt common standards

The TV industry must adopt common standards for connected TVs or risk these devices becoming a failure, warned the BBC’s general manager for on-demand, Daniel Danker.

Speaking at TV Connect in London this morning, the BBC’s iPlayer boss said that connected TVs need to share commonalities, and that not doing so previously has resulted in the industry using innovation as an “excuse for delivering sloppy experiences.”

Comparing the smart TV space to the auto industry, Danker said: “Just like in cars, the pedals, the steering wheel, the gear lever are all the same. For us, whether you’re watching on one make of TV or another, they should be the same.

“In fact, even if you move that experience to a mobile or a tablet, some of those consistent controls should be the same. I think it’s similar for the technologies that lie beneath the surface. They also need to share common platforms, in exactly the same way that cars share chassis or engines,” he said.

Dismissing the idea that such joined-up standards would hamper development in the space, he said “the car industry has not failed to innovate and the same argument applies to us,” adding that it was the audience that currently suffers.

In his keynote presentation Danker tracked the adoption rates of key technologies over the last hundred years, noting that devices like the radio and colour TV shared similar adoption rates, reaching 20% of consumers five years after being introduced, 50% after 10 years and reaching 90% after 20.

“If we compare the adoption of connected TV with other TV technologies over the last century, I would say it’s sure taking it’s time. That’s not a curve that we would all be proud of. My view is that connected TV shouldn’t be any less popular or less successful than colour TV has been, but we’re at a critical time in its development,” said Danker.

“My aim today is convince you that if this technology, if connected TV is going to be successful, is going to play the role that these other technologies have played in our lives, we have to get together as an industry and make some changes. If we don’t, I think in terms of adoption, connected TV will become a failure.”

Citing recent iPlayer stats he added that while 23% of iPlayer viewing in January 2013 came from TV platforms, nearly all of this adoption from operator services and games consoles. Smart TVs alone accounted for just 2% of views.

Concluding, Danker said the TV industry needs to create an enticing experience for users in order for them to go online from their sets. “If we get this right, I think years from now a connected TV will share space with other technology greats of the previous century.”

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