Wednesday, 20 February 2008

TV wars?

Two pretty important and, in many ways linked, pieces of news surfaced yesterday concerning how we are likely to be entertained in the future. Firstly, Sony and Blu-ray emerged as the victor in the 'War of the HD Formats' against HD-DVD. This is excellent news for consumers who really couldn't give a tinker's cuss for which format was used – they just wanted to avoid buying the wrong kit (as many did with Betamax, Philip’s optical discs, 8 track etc in years gone by) The Holway household can now finally use its giant HD plasma screen for the purpose it was intended.

As an aside, my friends tell me that it was the pornography industry in the US that finally put the pressure on for a decision to be made. I’m told that more pornographic DVDs are produced than for all other genres put together. It is also, I understand, one of the few industries that has stayed on shore in the US. Pornography in HD? Well, “whatever turns you on" I guess!

But the other news release that caught my eye was from Ashley Highfield, BBC Director Future Media (who very kindly addressed a recent meeting of the Prince’s Trust Technology Leadership Group which I Chair) See BBC viewers switching to watch online in today’s FT. An amazing 500,000 programmes are now being viewed per day via the BBC’s iPlayer with 17m programmes being downloaded or watched since the launch just 6 weeks ago. For those of you who haven’t experienced it yet, I commend you to do so. It is remarkably easy and fast to install and use. Just like the BBC Radio Player revolutionised my listening habits, I feel that BBC iPlayer will do the same for my TV watching. It is particularly good at time shifting – like I rarely manage to watch BBC Business Briefing at 6.00am…but now find I can watch it on my PC when I want or, indeed, even download it to my iPod to watch on the train into London.

But of course, the iPlayer output is far from HD! So are Blu-ray and the iPlayer (or any other ‘Video on Demand’ service in competition? Absolutely not! In our household they will live happily alongside one another.

No comments: