Football is game of two halves (god how often do you hear that), but so it seems was the SocialTV Forum. After a disappointing morning session my expectations of the afternoon were not great. And while there were still some issues, there were also some gems and a definite positive reaction to how the morning had gone.
The afternoon kicked of with a panel session, which had more weight to it than the whole morning. With Richard Lindsay Davies chairing and panel members including Rahul Chakkara and Claudio Venezia. Perhaps the biggest surprise was that it took 5 hours of this conference and Lindsay Davies to even mention Project Canvas! Not sure how you can have a socialTV conference in the UK in 2010 without discussing the giant publically funded gorilla that is Canvas! But even when Davis mentioned it – it was only to say he didn’t want to talk about it!! Which seems strange as recently that is all he does seem to talk about!
Rahul Chakkara was fantastic to be honest – interesting, insightful and when the panel began to drift he even took over from Davies (oh the irony) and pulled the panel back on course. Venezia was the only other panelist who really added value to the panel – he talked the words all VC’s love to hear, about how socialTV needed to be disruptive and the new industry needed innovation.
There was also someone called Tom on the panel (not on agenda) who said he didn’t know what socialTV was, but it was here already…..yeah, and that was his most insightful input into the panel as well. The panel didn’t really go anywhere, achieve any objectives – but Chakkara and Davies were good to listen to. Chakkara even joked at the end that he could not believe Canvass had not come up – and asked delegates to email him as he wanted ideas to help the industry evolve.
Both Davies and Chakkara were value for money – but I’d have liked to have heard both of them speak individually. They both have great expertise and very different opinions on how the industry will evolve and it would have been a great chance to see both sides discussed side by side.
Next was the gem of the afternoon – T-Mobile had dropped out so Simon Dyke and Malcolm Lewis stepped up to the plate with a demonstration of Oona a socialTV platform being developed by the NDS R&D department. Here we have some real innovation, applications that are live, working – contextual social interaction based upon the program being viewed. Facebook recommendation engines for what to watch, Twitter conversations based around the program you decide to watch, Flickr/Youtube supplementary content based on the contextual metadata supplied with the program. All being controlled by a remote, not a keyboard!!
As Simon stated “With television, there is ALWAYS a context” and NDS are using that context to serve up the social services consumers may/or may not want. A great Q&A session and some insight – whilst NDS are known as a B2B technology supplier, they did admit that Oona could be launched as a consumer product – and NDS do already have consumer brands out there! Interesting times at NDS, by far the best session and to see real innovation that was actually working was fantastic.
Around this time I tuned out I have to confess – I heard some of the next panel, Martin Jarrold was awful and just droned on and on about nothing/everything. Andrew Keamey and Nick Hopkins were a league apart in this panel, but you began to suspect they knew it and that the audience was already lost. Both of these two had good opinions and an insight into what UPC and Virgin are planning in relation to this area would have been great…but for some reason the chair would not let them.
The afternoon was much stronger than the morning – they were taking questions from the twitter stream, they had some heavy weight people to speak and a demonstration of a real service. A vast improvement – but this could have been a spectacular day if panelist had been allowed to be speakers!
So onto the IPTV World Forum next week…..a broader remit and a hope to see if I can get on the NDS stand and have a hands on play with Oona!