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April 30, 2012
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Do not overlook CE and Pay TV cooperation, says Samsung

Smart TV is not a zero-sum game for the Pay TV industry and the CE industry, according to Dan Saunders, Director of Content Services at Samsung. A zero-sum game is one where the gains of one participant must be matched by the losses of another. So the implication is that both Pay TV operators and device manufacturers like Samsung (who are also developing their own content portals) will gain from the development of the Connected TV market.

Samsung has been keen to emphasise the potential for cooperation with the Pay TV industry and Saunders says the company is seeing a lot of interest from network operators, including telcos, who want to use Samsung Smart TVs as a way to increase their incremental market reach using apps and OTT video. But he believes the mood for cooperation has been largely ignored in favour of more dramatic headlines pointing to a battle for control between Pay TV and the CE industry.

Apps development should become easier for Pay TV operators, and for all content providers including broadcasters, looking ahead, Saunders reckons. “From an apps development point of view we have reached stable ground,” he explains. “We are adding new features and tools to the software development process [for the Samsung platform] but the underlying architecture is fundamentally stable.” He adds that, given the combined experience of Samsung and the developer community, and the fact that there are now apps development agencies specialising in Connected TV, the technology barriers are coming down for content owners or platform operators who want to build apps for Smart TV.

“We are definitely at that point where apps are opening up to more people,” he adds. “The learning curve is no longer as steep. We are always improving our process and the tools and resources we make available to developers. The time and cost needed to build apps for Smart TV is coming down and will fall significantly.”

Saunders acknowledges that the value Samsung can offer a Pay TV operator or any other content provider depends on the market reach they can offer. When it comes to Smart TV sales and market share the company has a big advantage over many of its rivals. Samsung is also addressing the next challenge: making it easier for consumers to find the content from its apps partners. As a result, the concept of ‘smart interaction’ is a big focus in 2012, as witnessed at CES in January when facial recognition, voice recognition and gesture control were important highlights. The company is keen to make it as easy to find content and navigate around it as possible and views this as a way to differentiate the platform from rival CE offers.

Meanwhile, Saunders is convinced that Smart TV is on the verge of changing the TV market, helped by increased adoption. He thinks the behaviour of early Smart TV adopters, when it comes to how they find and watch content, is an indication of what the mass-market will look like in future. The desire to time-shift content is an example. “Everyone says it is only a small percentage of people that have these devices and only a small percentage that watch time-shifted content compared to linear TV but there was a time when only 2% of people bought books online. We are now seeing the roots of how people will consume TV in future.”

Dan Saunders is speaking at the Connected TV Summit in London, which starts on Wednesday. He is joined by executives from LG, Vestel, Google TV, Toshiba and ACCESS on the panel, ‘Next steps for Connected TV’. You can also hear from Samsung’s Head of Product Strategy, Dr. Andre Schneider, about ‘Expanding the market for paid OTT content’ and from Vassilis Seferidis, Director of Business Development, on the subject of  ‘How Pay TV and CE vendors can help each other’. Videonet produces Connected TV Summit. Find out more about the conferencehere:

DIRECTV & Samsung RUI Client/Server Solution with RVU has also been shortlisted in the Outstanding Technology Innovation category for the Connected TV Awards 2012, which are being presented on Day One of this conference. You can see more details about these awards here: