Microsoft “Ready to Engage” Satellite Operators
[Satellite News – 3-6-08] Earlier this year, Microsoft revealed that its Microsoft Mediaroom IPTV and multimedia platform is delivering video entertainment experiences to more than 1 million set-top boxes around the globe.
While the software giant is determined to play a pivotal role in the telecoms space, Enrique Rodriguez, corporate vice president for the Microsoft Connected TV business group, also hopes the operator can do deals with satellite players. “We are ready to engage with satellite operators interested in Microsoft Mediaroom at any time,” he told Satellite News. “Microsoft Mediaroom provides a viable solution to satellite operators looking to offer more advanced connected TV features, and we are flexible in working with our customers’ various backend infrastructures.”
Rodriguez said 2008 is shaping up to be a “pivotal” year for the company in terms of television. “TV is taking a giant leap in distancing itself from traditional broadcast to a new category of entertainment we call ‘connected TV,’" he said. “Microsoft’s vision is to allow consumers to experience entertainment content on any device, any time, anywhere. IPTV is a key component in our strategy, which is focused on enabling unique and compelling connected entertainment experiences.”
IPTV is one of the hottest segments in television, according to many industry analysts. IMS Research, an Austin, Texas-based telecoms consultancy, expects IPTV subscribers to reach nearly 65 million by 2012, surpassing expected growth in the satellite segment.
“In terms of growth between 2007 and 2011, satellite as a percentage of total TV households is expected to be the lowest in the Americas,” Shane Walker, a media analyst at IMS, said. “A growing trend in the U.S. and Canada is strategic partnering of [direct-to-home] operators and telcos such as DirecTV, Qwest, EchoStar, AT&T, Bell ExpressVu and Sasktel, in order to combine resources to offer a broader range of services. Partnerships and mergers between telcos, such as the merger between SBC and AT&T in the [United States] are increasing the footprint of major telcos and are likely to allow for a wide variety of IPTV services by the end of the decade. All of this results in increased competition for the cable and satellite TV segments.”
Also Ready To Help Competition
Microsoft now has the opportunity to continue to work with its service provider customer base and help establish IPTV in markets where satellite and cable had previously been the dominant forces. “We are now focused on creating powerful software that, combined with broadband connectivity, enables a new class of compelling connected and personalized video-based experiences to consumers,” Rodriguez said. “We are also about helping people enjoy the television programs, movies, sports and videos that matter most to them. Our vision starts with the TV set but it goes far beyond to include the [personal computer] and any other device where TV and video entertainment matters to consumers.”
Rodriguez believes Microsoft can help telcos gain an edge in the television market against satellite and cable opposition with a number of innovative new features. “IPTV enables a number of ‘better TV’ features that are unmatched by today’s cable and satellite services, including instant channel zapping, tunerless picture-in-picture streams, multi-picture-in-picture applications, virtually unlimited numbers of channels and , rich interactivity, connected entertainment services across devices in the home, and more,” he said.
“Up until now, the TV has been an isolated device, falling behind in terms of connectivity, personalization and social features,” said Rodriguez. “CTV is focused on enabling the best in TV and video entertainment that easily connects your favorite programs and movies to your lifestyle and schedule. When you combine the Microsoft Mediaroom platform with Microsoft’s other video competencies, such as Windows Media Center, which turns your home [personal computer] into a connected entertainment hub, you begin to see how this vision is becoming reality in very real and tangible ways. It is a very exciting time indeed.”