Here’s The Holy Grail of Internet TV

-Getting Rid of Islands of Content

Content distributors have begun taking steps down the path that leads to what some have dubbed the Holy Grail of home entertainment — linear TV services integrated with Internet TV services.

“A set-top box that would actually fuse OTT and traditional cable or satellite together – If I had a Holy Grail, it would be able to fuse all the Netflixes, Hulus and all that stuff together with traditional networks, so that I, as a consumer, don’t have to go out of this and into this,” said Dan Sweeney, VP at The Allant Group. “That’s one of the big barriers we still have in this space, to bring these two together.”

Sweeney spoke on a panel discussion at CES on “hybrid TV,” which refers to video services that combine OTT and traditional TV.

 

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“Islands of content”: bridging the divide

 

Ty Roberts, chief strategy officer and co-founder of metadata firm Gracenote, agreed. “You’ve got islands of content. I want one world of content, not islands,” he said, and added that metadata will help index content across sources. “What’s happening on the Internet is coming together with what’s happening in the broadcast world. The search services, both inside broadcast and outside, [will be] linked together. The future is really about tagging. It’s about how you associate your content with something else that people are watching – so that online recommendation systems, or searching systems, will pull your content.”

“Personalization is going to get a lot richer,” he said.

Sling Media is one of the first companies to put an OTT service on a pay TV STB in the US, in this case, Dish Network’s satellite TV boxes. “On our set-top box, we just added Netflix,” said Michael Hawkey, SVP and general manager at Sling Media. He added that consumers can search for content across the two content sources. “Now you have an OTT service with satellite — but that’s just one OTT service,” he said. “It’s a step. We haven’t made that final leap.”

The final leap might look something like what smart TV app maker Net2TV is hoping for: “In a perfect world, our cooking shows would be right next to Home and Garden, and The Food Network; our sports shows would be right next to ESPN, our news shows would be right next to CNN,” said Jim Monroe, co-founder and SVP of programming at the company. “That’s the holy grail for us, when that barrier between linear and non-linear goes away…

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