Interactive TV Together: An Open Service Infrastructure for Enhancing Interactive TV Experiences

Interactive TV Together: An Open Service Infrastructure for Enhancing Interactive TV Experiences

Cristian Hesselman (Telematica Instituut, The Netherlands), Joost Broekens (Telematica Instituut, The Netherlands), Mark Gülbahar (Institut für Rundfunktechnik, Germany), Florian Winkler (NEC Europe Ltd., Germany), Daniel Görgen (Philips Research, The Netherlands) and Ferry de Jong (Logica, The Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-656-3.ch003
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Abstract

One of the challenges in the world of interactive digital TV is to improve the user experience facilitated by these services. In this chapter, the authors discuss their approach towards reaching this goal, which is to integrate community and interactivity services (“Web 2.0”-style) of third-party providers from out side the world of IPTV into an IPTV service offering (e.g., services on the public Internet, and services offered by telco operators and end-users). The foundation of this work is an open service infrastructure that facilitates this form of integration. The authors discuss the set of service enablers that make up the infrastructure and present a working prototype implementation that serves as a proof of concept of their approach. They also outline four possible scenarios for the future of IPTV, which are based on a trend analysis and form the basis for developing business models made possible by their infrastructure.
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Introduction

Interactive digital TV is a service that is traditionally offered via digital broadcast networks such as DVB (Reimers, 2006), but more recently also became widely available through IP networks. This IP-based branch of interactive digital TV is usually referred to as “IPTV” and emerged as a result of the rapid proliferation of broadband networks (Tadayoni, 2006). IPTV services use the inherent two-way nature of these networks to support interactivity, although the actual level of interactivity depends on how deep it goes into the system (Tadayoni, 2006). IPTV is typically available through managed networks, which means that an operator controls the transmission properties of the network. This allows the operator to control the perceptual quality of its IPTV services, which need to be at least as high as traditional broadcast TV services. Examples of network operators are ISPs, cable television companies, and telecom operators. IPTV offers new market opportunities for such players, who often provide IPTV services as part of a “triple play” service offering (i.e., IPTV plus traditional telecommunications services plus internet access). IPTV usually also involves a video on demand component in addition to linear TV.

While IPTV services extend the traditional TV viewing experience with remote control-based interactivity and typically higher quality content, there is a lot of ongoing work on how to further enhance these experiences, often by adding community and advanced interactivity services (“Web 2.0”-style) to IPTV services. Recent studies show that users seem to value such additions (Abreu & Almeida, 2008; Schatz, Baillie, Fröhlich & Egger, 2008; Miletich, 2008; Boertjes, Klok & Schultz, 2008), although their level of appreciation appears to depend on various parameters, such as the TV content being shown and the interaction modality used (e.g., voice or keypads) (Schatz, Baillie, Fröhlich & Egger, 2008), the types of users involved (e.g., teenagers or retired people) (Miletich, 2008), and the types of services being added (Boertjes, Klok & Schultz, 2008). Examples of such add-ons are “home grown” content of friends, and chat, presence, and recommendation services.

In our work, we also extend IPTV services with community and interactivity services, but we use third-party services from outside the world of IPTV to accomplish this (cf. (Baca, 2008; Lowet & Khmelinskaya, 2008)). Examples are services from the Web (e.g., e-commerce services or community services), from the world of mobile telecommunications (e.g., billing and accounting services), and services that run within the home (e.g., a networked VCR). As we believe that community services are one of the prime ingredients in an extended IPTV service offering, we call our approach interactive TV Together (iTVT) and refer to an IPTV service enhanced with third-party services as an iTVT service. Within this model, we think of a content provider (e.g., a provider offering long-tail content) as a special kind of third-party service provider.

Figure 1 shows an example of an iTVT service that serves a group of people at three different homes. The service consists of an IPTV service and three third-party services from outside the world of IPTV: an interactive gaming service (operated by a service provider on the Web), a shopping service (also operated by a Web service provider), and a presence service (offered by a mobile telecommunications operator). Observe that in this example the IPTV service provider combines the third-party services and its IPTV service into an iTVT service. To simplify the discussion, we will assume this model throughout this chapter, but in general it could also be the responsibility of a separate party to carry out this integration.

Figure 1.

Example of an iTVT service

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