8 reasons the BBC Trust approved Project Canvas
22nd Dec 2009 | 14:21
Not just to annoy Sky then?
The BBC Trust has given the green light for the BBC to push on with Project Canvas – developing IPTV for the masses, along with partners like BT and ITV.
TechRadar has analysed those reasons to find out why the Trust believes that that the problems it details – including the potential damage to pay-TV services, new and existing hybrid/DTT platforms (such as the recently announced Cello TV for example) and DVD sales – to give its provisional approval.
1: "It will add a new dimension to digital terrestrial TV by enabling an increase in the range of content and services available on the platform."
This new dimension includes the increasingly powerful video on demand and catch-up TV options that has made the BBC's iPlayer, along with commercial offerings like Sky Player, popular already.
And, of course, apart from massive breadth of choice in television at the touch of a button, the development of interactivity, portable profiles, games and widgets are already causing excitment.
2: "It is intended to provide a high-quality user experience with a simple and consistent look and feel."
Rather, the Trust appears to be hinting, than letting each manufacturer and IPTV project using its own look and feel and proprietary user interface (UI) – something which will feasibly confuse users.
This UI is actually one of the major problems for manufacturers, who don't necessarily want to dress their VOD up just like the BBC iPlayer, but feel they should be given the freedom to choose what they offer – and crucially differentiate themselves from their rivals.
"If you follow the Freesat example, those manufacturers who contribute the most will get the most out of it in terms of control and flexibility – look at Panasonic, Humax and Technisat," says What Satellite editor Alex Lane.
3: "There will be low barriers to access for new producers/providers of content who wish to get onto the platform – allowing a new range of low-cost services the opportunity to flourish."
So, rather than setting the bar too high by, for instance, only allowing high quality streams – potentially putting smaller content providers at a disadvantage – the Trust believes that Project Canvas will serve up a level playing field whether you are ITV or a local television station.
And if you're a content provider, even a small local cable channel, you won't be excluded from the Canvas site, you'll just have to meet certain minimum requirements.
4: "The creation of an open joint venture and engagement with industry can help deliver a common technical standard with features currently unavailable in the market."
The Trust is hoping that by providing a level playing field, manufacturers, developers and content providers will have an arena for innovation – bringing as-yet unthought of services, widgets and ideas to the IPTV market.
5: "It may also help drive broadband take-up."
this ia an obvious one – although you could easily state this about any popular IPTV service, not necessarily Canvas.
6: "Growing demand for on-demand content on TV and, to a lesser extent, residential broadband."
You would imagine the success of iPlayer, and the BBC's constant need to redevelop for multiple platforms, have figured in the corporation's desire to come up with a widespread, mass-market way of getting IPTV to the average television.
The BBC Trust also believes that the desire from the public for both video on demand (VOD) and faster broadband should be helped by the venture
7: "Offering a greater number of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) the opportunity to develop 'stronger triple play' (phone/TV/broadband) offerings."
You would imagine that this comes as something of annoyance to the likes of Virgin Media and Sky – both of which have had a real impact with their triple-play packages, but not (Canvas partner) BT whose BT Vision has not proved to be nearly as popular as its optimistic targets, leaving it with a less tempting triple play package.
In fairness, this will provide greater competition in the triple-play market, which could result in lower prices for consumers.
8: "Offering new entrants providing content to the market an accessible and affordable platform to reach the public."
This is quite a key one: major content providers are always going to do well on whichever platform they choose, but could feasibly push their own content over others.
The Project Canvas platform should allow for smaller offerings to be given a voice and a chance to grow.