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06/12/2011

UK Turf War For Internet TV?

The amount of US households with internet-enabled TV devices, including Smart TVs, connected Blu-Ray players, game consoles, and streaming media players is growing steadily, so says a report by Advanced Television. But is the UK lagging behind?
According to the report around 17 million US households currently own a connected TV, and ownership of streaming media players has nearly doubled since the end of 2010. It is believed that VoD, Download to Own or Electronic-sell-through (EST) will double by 2015 in the US.
The Financial Times reported that in the UK just 2% of television viewing is online, with a large portion of that made up of free catch-up services.
So it would seem that UK may be playing a slight catch up with the US but internet-enabled TV devices seem sure to catch on with distributors now latching on to the UK market.
Analysts believe new devices that make it easier to watch Internet video on the television will accelerate the shift.
Indeed this comes at a time when Microsoft has announced a major update to its Xbox 360 which will see the games console morph into a general entertainment hub.
The free update to the Xbox 360 games console will bring new catch-up TV services and integrated voice control to around 35 million users.
UK users will gain access to LOVEFiLM, 4oD, Demand 5, VEVO, YouTube, MSN, MUZU.TV and Sony’s movie and TV video on demand service Crackle.
It is understood that over 40 TV providers will be involved and the BBC is expected to announce their iPlayer integration early in 2012. And of the five of UK terrestrial channels only ITV has not yet signed up.
This Microsoft upgrade will pit the Xbox 360 directly against Apple TV which offers access to pay per view movies and internet video services.
Apple has been slow to add UK-specific content to the device, which lacks any native catch-up TV services and, unlike the US version, cannot access TV shows bought from iTunes.
The UK’s 'catch up' does not stop here however. Film fans in the UK will be spoiled for choice next year as a range of new digital movie portals launch.
Internet players will be pitted against traditional retailers and media groups for a crowded fight for Studios’ content.
For example, when Netflix announced last month that the would bring an online subscription service to the UK and Ireland in 2012 is started negotiations in a small but competitive and rapidly growing market.
Netflix’s multi-year deal will provide its subscription streaming service to the UK and Ireland, in partnership with Hollywood studio MGM. The deal means UK and Irish customers will be able access most of the studio's first-run feature films.
Subscribers to Netflix can instantly watch films on their TVs, computers, mobile phones and tablets.
In turn Amazon- backed LoveFilm and Netflix are also battling with British Sky Broadcasting for rights to the newest movies, while at the same time pay-per-view services such as HMV’s new On Demand site.
Meanwhile supermarket giant Tesco is also getting in on the game with Tesco’s Blinkbox, attempting to lure eyeballs from movie services attached to hardware such as Apple’s iPhone and iPad, Sony’s PlayStation3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360.
Indeed it will be a long game for those competing in the UK market – but there is no doubt that the game is on.
(LB)
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