20 January 2015
What’s a bridge for?
TabletTV is now a reality. Live broadcast TV on supported tablets can be seen in the UK and US. Features will be added over the coming months, and new markets opening up all the time. Tablet TV can be viewed as many things, but one central truth is that Tablet TV is a bridge.
Before TabletTV, Tablets and television occupied two different spaces. Tablets got their content over the internet from a variety of sources. Some of this content could be live television, but it was streamed over the internet and not via broadcast. As has been discussed before by Motive, there is an inherent difference in the quality of content streamed over the internet and that delivered by broadcast. Content streamed is subject to a number of pressure points. For example, currently each stream is individual to each user, so the bandwidth requirements for popular content can be high. Also, the local internet connection can affect the quality of reception (if the connection has a poor speed, or if multiple users are on the same connection, then the quality will suffer). However, the range of content that can be accessed by Tablets is significantly greater than the content available via broadcast. Internet content comes into its own when dealing with catch-up content which of course is not readily available on broadcast (outside of +1 channels etc).
Broadcast television has recently been looked on as the poor relation in terms of content, with all the talk being about OTT (over-the-top) or internet based services. However even though some television ratings are falling, the popular shows are still commanding audiences measured in many millions. Having the same number of simultaneous viewers accessing content via OTT services presents significant challenges and costs. Broadcast television still has access to more than 90 of the top 100 rated television programs in the UK and the US. TabletTV turns tablets into devices that can access this content without the need to worry about quality / buffering or any bandwidth charges. With upcoming enhancements, TabletTV will also support recording which allows you to take content with you and watch wherever you want (so catch-up without the need for internet access).
Operating TabletTV as a stand alone device gives you broadcast, and when you are connected to the internet, you tablet gets all the available OTT content (depending on your subscriptions). Combining the two gives you the best of both worlds. When you combine the broadcast and internet worlds, viewers can access the widest range of content, with the best quality for live. In essence TabletTV becomes a bridge between broadcast and the internet—the TV industry calls this Hybrid TV. In order to do this you need something we call “Home Network”. With this upcoming upgrade, you can setup your TabletTV tuner to use your existing home WiFi network. This not only extends the range of the Tablet TV tuner, but also ensures that the tablet has access to both broadcast and internet at the same time.
The TV industry has been developing standards and devices for Hybrid TV, bridging what you get from broadcast with what is available on the Internet. YouView is an example. TabletTV is developing the same bridge for mobile devices.
The possibilities are endless …
Dr Glenn Craib