I Want My ITV!
By Al Brisard
I like my smart TV. Its high-definition capabilities increase my viewing pleasure immensely. When I tune in to one of my cable stations, the programs are picture-perfect. But the TV needs to be smarter. Even though I can access Netflix, Hulu and other vendors for on-demand video, the process is kludgy. I still need to access the higher TV menu to gain this access. The concept of bookmark or channel designation doesn’t even exist. This all seems rather primitive in this day and age. So my smart TV is more like a first generation Internet interface.
But in the end, this is my real complaint: I can’t get Internet TV – just free broadcast TV over the air or cable programming plus some free broadcast TV transmitted via cable or satellite. I must choose a package of channels, most of which I have no interest in, and pay a monthly fee for programming that I will never watch. And without a DVR or TiVo, I have to view the programs in real time, not when it’s convenient for me.
I imagine instead a world where I can select, play and enjoy television programs of all types using any of my devices, anywhere and anytime – when I want to, not when the programs are being broadcast. I want a choice of content that I can designate to channels I choose, and a menu of available programs listed by categories from which I can choose the content regardless of the underlying provider of that content. A channel should be like a bookmark that I name and point to the content. Finally, each channel should have a time function that allows me to go back in time and select content that I might have missed.
The service would probably be cloud-based so that when I purchase a content source it will be available on all of my devices. If I choose to store a program longer than normal, it can be resident on a cloud server for quick and easy access by any device and not taking up valuable storage space on my PC, TV, etc. It would also be nice if I had the ability to start watching a program on one device and finish watching it on another.
All of this for a fee of course, but the fee would be pay-as-I-go, not pay-for-whatever-is-on-at-a-certain-time-of-day or whatever-channels-are-in-my-package. I would even be open to a credit-based purchase along the lines of content sources. Ergo, if I pay $50/month, I get “X" number of credits to leverage as I choose to customize my content sources for the month. If I want more content, I purchase more credits.
Does all this sound familiar? It should. In the U.S., the concept is somewhat embodied in iTunes. In the U.K., the TV service exists and it’s called ITV. Hopefully a company like Apple or some enterprising entrepreneur is working on just this type of service (there are even some market rumors to this effect). Or perhaps ITV has expansion plans in its FY13 business plan, and is considering the massive pent-up demand and new revenue opportunities for its services just lying in wait here in the U.S., available for them to provide.
I’m probably in for a long wait, and am resigned to continue clicking my remote past channel after channel I neither need nor care to watch, instead of queuing programs I want to watch, when I want to watch them, wherever I’m located. Hopefully regulations will adapt to allow such capabilities in the U.S.
But I can always hope, and it is nice to just reflect as a pure consumer for a change as opposed to someone who has to try and maneuver around all the roadblocks to meet consumer needs. This was refreshing.
Al Brisard is vice president of marketing and business development at Vertek Corp. , a leading provider of end-to-end business process outsourcing, business consulting and managed business assurance offerings that allow communication providers to reduce costs, improve customer experiences, grow revenue and ultimately improve profitability. Contact him at: email@example.com.