Sky Building New Internet For Television

By Davis Freeberg

Tracy Swedlow is out with yet another excellent interview on the future of interactive television. This time Tracy was able to interview Ian Valentine with BSkyB on a new interactive platform called Sky Net that launched last week. Sky Net is an interactive portal that allows content owners to essentially build their own website for Sky set top box customers by using WTVML (Worldwide TV Mark-up Language).

Initially, the company launched the service with only 600 sites, but in the interview Valentine says that they are seeing 25 – 50 sites created each week. Trying to bring the internet to the TV has failed in the past, but with more and more advertising beginning to test the interactive TV markets, I expect that this is going to be an interesting industry to keep an eye on. Sky Net’s biggest downside is that I can’t just register Thomashawk.com and have them start offering the blog to their viewers, but rather I have to publish my content directly on their platform using WTVML. This may increase the amount of work required on the part of publishers, but it does help to ensure a smoother Internet TV experience for their customers.

“One thing that’s also exciting is that people in the broadband/IPTV space are very interested in what we’re doing, because they haven’t yet fully figured out what the mass interactive content proposition will be for IPTV, and they’re starting to realize that the kind of content that we’re getting on Sky Net is ideal to offer people over IPTV set-top boxes. We’re getting a lot of interest from the industry in how we’re making Internet infrastructures work properly on the TV, and in the standards and tools that we and our partners have developed.”

Some of the early content featured on the service include news stories from Reuters, as well as a healthcare site called StartHere which features 44,000 pages on healthcare issues. There is also a service, which the privacy nuts will hate, but I’m sure that Tom will love, called KidsOK, that allows you to register your children’s cell phones with the service and then ping them at anytime so that you can know exactly where they are at.

I would love to be able to surf the internet directly from my television, but have yet to find a good system that allows for this. There are definetely some advantages to using the net from a desktop, but if there was a way for me to use my remote as a mouse and be able to easily surf the net, I would do this in a heartbeat. As the DVR industry continues to evolve it will be interesting to see who allows completely open access to the web, who allows no access to the web and who will support the open standard WTVML for TV internet usuage.

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2 Comments

  1. Markbnj says:

    Thomas:

    I used to work for AT&T; Labs, working on the (ATT Cable{now comcast} set-top box “walled garden”

    The ENTIRE experience of walled gardens has been around since AOL pioneered it back in late 80’s.

    It will NOT work.
    The Future of TV is ON PC’s.
    NOT in your den.

    I’ve (also) been building compact TV appliances that can plug into TV’s for customers. It becomes a TIVO and if you have the $$$ for a HDTV card, your HD decoder and EVERYTHING.

    Also: wrt the set-top box:
    That fiasco (led by the $$SOBs$$$ led by microsquish’s set-top windows box) was the reason AT&T; died (and split itself into 4 (and then sold its name to bellsouth)

    And the set-top box development, as well as programming the converters, etc were the biggest delays in project.

    We had an infrastructure READY to roll, before the box was even completed. But the garden programming was so convoluted, even using windows api’s , …ugh…
    Markbnj

  2. Kids Music says:

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