Theres never been a better time to be involved in internet-connected television broadcasting.
By 2015, 350 million internet-connected TVs will have been sold, and there will be one billion web-enabled,stationary, consumer devices like set-top boxes and Blu- ray players in use around the world.
This huge growth in internet-connected devices hasheralded a new era for broadcasting and consumer tv and will have a massive impact on our industry.
I believe were seeing a true evolution in terms of aworldwide broadcasting channel providing an online video platform.
Consumers are constantly viewing live and catch-up TV or video on demand via internet-connected television sets, smartphones, gaming consoles and blue-ray players - anywhere they can access a web browser, in what has become known as OTT or over-the-top TV.
OTT TV is the next generation for broadcasting, and presents an exciting opportunity for broadcasters andcontent owners to reach new audiences over a variety of devices, without the traditional costs associated with setting up a channel.
Broadcasters and content owners themselves no longerface those traditional geographical and operator-imposed barriers. They are now free to deliver their content directly to their audiences.
For the last 15 years, IPTV (Internet Protocol Television - or TV delivered over the Internet) has been the industry buzzword with traditional networks - such as telcos and ISPs - licensing and packaging content for captive audiences.
Thats been an expensive business - both for the networks,who face significant financial outlay in providing consumerdevices and acquiring content, and for the consumer, who needed to buy a branded device (usually a set-top box) from the network to access channels.
At the same time User Generated Content sites such asYouTube demonstrated consumers increasing appetite for sharing and watching video online, while the likes of BBCiPlayer, Hulu, Netflix and iTunes have given audiences the freedom to watch on demand.
This has led to traditional broadcasters and network operators having to reassess their approach, understandhow audiences are migrating from IPTV to OTT TV and find quick, easy solutions to capitalise on it.
OTT TV represents an open market broadcasting platform where small or large content owners can broadcast, notjust existing channels or network owners. The low start-upcosts for IP delivery and growing broadband reach remove most barriers.
OTT content can be accessed via browsers or native apps on devices, and over networks which are purchasedindependently by viewers. Devices like the Roku Set-Top Box connect to the internet and allow access to any content for which an app has been created.
Operator independent internet set-top boxes are showing fast growth as a relatively cheap and quick way to access these new OTT services. Over two million Apple TVdevices have already been sold while Roku expects to have sold over three million boxes by the end of 2011.
And while the barriers to entering the TV market are being removed by OTT, traditional revenue streams remain andnew opportunities arise - from pay-TV and subscription, to paid-for supplementary VoD, archive access and niche advertising. IMS Research forecasts that pay OTTsubscription services will generate a cumulative $32 billion in revenues over the next five years.
OTT internet also enhances the social and interactive sideof watching TV. In a world of too much choice, being able to have content socially filtered by integrating friendrecommendations into Electronic Programme Guides can help create a better lean-back TV experience for the viewer.