Monthly Archives: July 2011

Apple, Hulu and the rush for content

According to unconfirmed press reports, Apple is considering the acquisition of Hulu.
Hulu’s owners have also held discussions with Yahoo!, Google and Amazon, while Microsoft has stated that it is not interested in the company.
In June 2011, the US-based OTT service, which has significant content deals with NBC Universal, Fox and ABC, had 26.7m unique viewers.
Should Apple acquire Hulu, the main question would be whether Hulu would continue to invest to reach multiple third party devices or would shift the focus to concentrate on iTunes and Apple devices.
For more on the implications of this, see a detailed analysis by farncombe here.

QR codes for TV-based smartphone transactions?

Interesting think-piece here by Rick Howe at Tracy Swedlow’s Interactive TV Today.
Rick wonders if the use of QR codes might take off on (US) TV as a way of enabling secure purchases via smartphones in response to a TV screen prompt. His article contains a number of video-grabs of US examples of such applications.
Rick bases his argument on the growing popularity of QR functionality in mobile phones.
QR codes (short for Quick Response codes) are a high-data-content variation on barcodes (see here).
They can be captured and analysed by phone camera software, triggering a link to a relevant website.
As an example, the QR code below contains a link to farncombe’s website (

‘T2-Lite’: a new candidate for mobile broadcasting

European digital TV standards body DVB has introduced a new, slimmed-down profile as part of the latest version of its next-generation DVB-T2 standard, targeting ‘low-capacity’ applications such as mobile broadcasting.
Known as ‘T2-Lite’, the new profile avoids processing- and memory-heavy modes, allowing more efficient receiver designs to be used – e.g. for a DVB-T2 tuner in a smartphone or tablet.
T2-Lite is limited to a maximum bit-rate of 4MBit/s, whereas the full HD-centric profile can run up to 48MBit/s (in the UK, DVB-T2 uses around 40MBit/s for DTT HD – see here.)
DVB says that “One possible use for T2-Lite enables the simulcasting of two different versions of the same service, with different bit-rates and levels of protection, which would allow better reception in fringe areas.”
According to a post on the BBC’s R&D blog, the BBC has been testing T2-Lite since July 7. In the trial, an HD signal for fixed reception and a T2-Lite version are combined within a single multiplex, with the T2-Lite frames placed in the gaps between the HD ones.
The concept that a single DVB signal could contain different versions of a broadcast which could be extracted by different receivers with different capabilities was proposed by the ‘god-father’ of DVB, Prof Ulrich Reimers, when DVB was originally set up, but has yet to prove popular in practice.
The BBC solution will be demonstrated at the forthcoming IBC exhibition in Amsterdam.

Farncombe supports KBW VOD launch

Farncombe has played a key role in the creation and launch of Germany’s first VOD service on cable for Kabel Baden-Württemberg (Kabel BW).
In a press release out this morning, Kabel BW said the service, Kabel BW Videothek, had met with “enthusiasm” from its subscribers.
Kabel BW engaged farncombe to advise on the VOD project from its inception, with farncombe helping to define the requirements for the service and its features, then supporting Kabel BW with vendor selection, architecture definition and design, as well as advising on the contractual aspects of the project.
Farncombe went on to play a key role in project-managing the system integration of Kabel BW Videothek, working closely with Kabel BW’s Product Management, Engineering, Billing and CRM, Customer Support and Operational teams.
Full text of the press release here. German-language version here.

Kabel BW VideothekKabel BW Videothek