Setting the standard for Web TV

Norwegian Web TV solutions are the most advanced in the world and Norwegians display a high level of user competence in the field. A large-scale international research project is now studying ways to use information about user behaviour to improve the quality of the technical solutions available.

“Norway is at the forefront of Web TV technology. International researchers and developers are following what is happening in Norway in this field with keen interest,” states Amela Karahasanovic, Research Scientist at SINTEF, Scandinavia’s largest independent research institution.

Broad mapping
Norway is at the forefront of Web TV technology, states Amela Karahasanovic, Research Scientist at SINTEF, Scandinavia’s largest independent research institution. (Photo: UiO) Ms Karahasanovic heads the Road to media-aware user-Dependent self-aDaptive Networks (R2D2 Networks) project, which is partially funded under the Research Council’s Large-scale programme Core Competence and Value Creation in ICT (VERDIKT).

“During the project we have collected data from over 270 000 users from Spain, Sweden and Norway. The study has shown that Norwegian users display a high level of interest and technical know-how compared with users from other countries.”

Stable usage patterns
Web TV usage appears to be stable and predictable across national boundaries. This applies both to the sort of content that is being viewed and to the time of viewing.

“Certain local differences in Internet use play a role here, such as the fact that people eat dinner later in Spain than in Scandinavia. But on the whole the behaviour of the users is stable across countries and over time,” states Ms Karahasanovic.

 

Many young people do not own a normal TV. In this group it is likely that
Web TV will rapidly become the dominant form of TV viewing.

(Photo: SINTEF)

Little or no social function
Watching Web TV is something people do on their own. As a result it does not have the social component of traditional TV.

“We have been somewhat surprised to see that the possibility of sharing content with other people does not appear to be important to the users,” states Ms Karahasanovic. She believes, however, that this is a phenomenon that may change over time.

TV for the future
Flexibility and personalisation are without doubt among the most important features that will drive the development of Web TV in the future.

“Viewers will no longer have to follow the television channels’ broadcasting schedules. They can watch their programmes when it suits them. In addition it will be possible for them to watch customised programmes with content tailored to the individual user,” explains Ms Karahasanovic.

According to Ms Karahasanovic it is difficult to say whether Web TV will gradually displace the traditional technical solutions altogether. The project has shown, however, that many young people do not own a normal TV. In this group it is likely that Web TV will rapidly become the dominant form of TV viewing.

The R2D2 Networks project documents how the role of traditional TV has changed over time. Nowadays the television is often on in the background while people are working at their laptops or using their e-book readers, for example. In many ways the good old television set has taken over the role that radio once played.

Collaboration challenges
One of the greatest challenges for the development of Web TV lies in getting network providers and content suppliers to cooperate effectively.

“Some of the really major players are used to having a monopoly, but are now having to adapt to changes in the market,” states Amela Karahasanovic. The R2D2 Networks project shows, among other things, that it is useful for content suppliers and network providers alike to share data and that more and more companies from both sides are seeing the positive potential of collaboration.

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