Tag Archives: Farncombe

The Connected TV Usability Index – coming soon…

The Connected TV blog seems a good place to announce a new venture which farncombe, which hosts this site, is currently working on. This new endeavour involves benchmarking the usability of connected TV devices.

Those of us with access to a connected TV experience – whether on a smart TV, games console, laptop, tablet or set-top box – will all have our favourite bugbears about the connected user experience: the number of clicks it takes to call up a particular piece of on-demand content, over-complex remotes that don’t match what’s on the EPG, screens that are difficult to navigate, etc. etc.

But is it possible to create a standardised set of objective, quantifiable tests with which to assess and compare the user-friendliness of all these different screens?

Well, farncombe thinks it is. Using the knowledge and experience of its engineers at the Farncombe Test Lab in Vauxhall, London (which is already carrying out technical testing on some of our clients’ hybrid receivers), as well as the EPG design knowhow of its user experience practice, WeAreAka, farncombe has worked out a standardised battery of tests that assesses the most common ‘user journeys’ on connected TV devices, the types of feature that improve usability, and the kind of bad UX design practices best avoided.

Over the coming months farncombe will be refining its thinking, testing an initial batch of connected TV devices, and publishing some of the early results as a new industry monitor provisionally dubbed ‘The Connected TV Usability Index’.

The intention is to create a benchmark for viewers and industry alike, by regularly reporting which connected TV devices are ‘best in class’ for a particular usability category – and thereby helping consumers make a more informed choice as they migrate towards this complex emerging market. The first manufacturers are already signed up.

Farncombe believes that manufacturers and operators alike will find the index a valuable tool to help them understand how to enhance the TV viewing user experience.

If you are a connected TV device manufacturer and you believe your user experience is best-in-class, then there is still time for you to be involved at no cost. Please click here to contact us.

If you want to share with us your suggestions about those features you believe should be on our shortlist – and even those which are the most irritating – then we welcome your comments.

Watch this space for more details!

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

Farncombe Consulting proposes replacement for DVB Common Scrambling Algorithm

Farncombe Consulting Group, which hosts this blog, has published a second White Paper on TV Conditional Access (CA), which proposes a possible replacement for the DVB Common Scrambling Algorithm (CSA).

This is the hardware-based digital TV encryption technology mandated under European Law and which underpins today’s DVB-based pay-TV sector.

Farncombe’s in-house video security experts think it’s overdue for a replacement, arguing that – although it was introduced for the best possible motives in the early 1990s – the technology now raises serious commercial, regulatory and technical concerns for the digital pay-TV industry.

For instance, they point out, the CSA was designed for an era when operators were keen to avoid their content being distributed to PCs, and where broadband did not exist as a distribution medium. But neither of these factors apply today. This means operators are saddled with a technology which makes content distribution more difficult, and is not only already vulnerable to piracy but poised to become increasingly so.

In the White Paper, Farncombe accordingly proposes a next-generation replacement for the CSA, based on a ‘toolkit’ approach which mixes both hardware and software elements.

This will take time to implement, however. In the meantime, operators who upgrade their installed receiver base without addressing the security flaws in the CSA approach risk wasting their investment. Farncombe notes that the nature of this weakness is such that it only takes one hacked receiver to allow control words to be fed over broadband to any legacy DVB STB and enable pay-TV content to be pirated.

This implies that the industry needs to introduce a replacement as soon as possible.

A PDF of the new White Paper can be obtained from Farncombe by clicking here (or by pasting the following URL into your browser: http://www.farncombe.eu/index.php?menu=4.4) and filling in a simple registration form. Farncombe will then personally send you a copy.

Farncombe: Pay-TV shift to two-way networks will mean move away from smartcard-based conditional access systems

Farncombe Consulting Group, which hosts this blog, has just published a new White Paper on how the Digital TV Conditional Access sector will be affected by the shift towards broadband-enabled pay-TV networks.

Written by Farncombe’s own highly-experienced group of in-house video security experts, the White Paper assesses the pros and cons of using smartcard-based and cardless systems in different types of pay-TV set-up, ranging from traditional one-way broadcast TV operations to broadband-enabled two-way IP and connected home networks.

The paper concludes that while smartcards continue to remain the solution of choice for protecting one-way systems, cardless-based solutions are preferable for protecting video content in IPTV, ‘over-the-top’ and home networking contexts.

For one-way networks migrating to broadband connectivity, meanwhile, both types of system have their advantages, depending largely on the availability, reliability and quality of the broadband network.

The White Paper’s authors go on to suggest that since the traditional one-way pay-TV world is slowly but surely changing into a two-way one, it is likely that there will be a gradual shift away from smartcard-based systems in favour of cardless ones – led by the digital cable sector.

A PDF of the new White Paper can be obtained from Farncombe by clicking here and filling in a simple registration form.