In the week that Project Canvas becomes a fully independent joint venture project director, Richard Halton, suggests that responsibility for driving the success of the platform has passed from manufacturers to content producers, writes Adrian Pennington.
“If the Canvas proposals have achieved one thing it’s to put connected TV right on the agenda of the manufacturing industry – and importantly the content industry,” Halton said. “No-one should forget how big a mindset shift that is for the creative industries. The consumer electronics industry typically runs head of the creative industries. Canvas shows that the creative industries are sitting up and paying attention.”
Halton argues that what gives Canvas the edge – and its main raison d’etre – is that the platform is designed and owned by companies that understand content. There are already discussions about how producers can take big programme brands like The X Factor and enrich them for a connected TV environment.
“It is not not just about attaching a pipe to a TV, it’s about content that works in that context and it is for content makers to imagine and to bring to screen the possibilities this entails.”
The BBC has demonstrated how users could bring up a graphic and see the progress of riders during a live broadcast of the Tour de France. “That’s a graphic normally reserved for sports analysts but brought under the control of the viewer,” Halton says.
Discussions are ongoing about how the platform can be exploited during the 2012 London Olympics with the Games sponsors and Canvas content owners.
“2012 could be as much a watershed for the consumer as the Coronation was to the impact of colour TV on the public’s consciousness,” said Halton.
Canvas has submitted the last of its 14 specification documents to the Digital TV Group and they will next publish a core spec with additional elements provided by Canvas to prepare manufacturers and content providers to support it.
The first wave of devices will be internet-enabled set-top boxes, most likely with PVRs and twin tuners. Going forward the plan is to release fully integrated Canvas TVs.
The JV will be directed by a board comprised of members of the seven founding companies (BBC, BT, TalkTalk, Channel 4, ITV, Arqiva, Five). Halton is likely to be named CEO to oversee commercial launch which is scheduled for April 2011.
A consumer brand name, rumoured to be YouView, will be unveiled shortly.