Thursday, May 26, 2011

EBIF Dying Part Two, Comcast Testing IP

How timely. Shortly after sending out my previous blog do I find this terrific article in today's Wall Street Journal. The old maxim, if you can't beat em, join em, seems to have prevailed as Comcast begins to accept that for now the future is IP over EBIF. "Using the MIT campus as its proving ground, Comcast in coming months will try delivering TV channels using the same standard used to deliver data over the Internet, known as the Internet protocol, or IP. Like other cable providers, Comcast currently delivers channels over less versatile digital television technology that sends the video in streams to set-top boxes and isn't compatible with the Internet." And should it prove a successful test, cable interactivity and convergence could take a large progressive leap forward.

"The new technology could enable Comcast to deliver video service to any customer with an Internet connection, regardless of whether they live in an area covered by Comcast's cable system. A move to do so would shake up the pay-TV market, where cable systems largely operate in separate regions of the country, known as 'footprints.'" It is this very notion of competition across the entire USA by cable operators that causes competing satellite companies to worry. Their competitive edge is to merge Direct TV and Dish and compete with cable universally.

And a web based approached better gives the consumer what they seek most, content what they want, when they want, where they want, and how they want. No set top boxes, better interactive guides, easier set up and servicing. Overall, an IP approach delivers a better experience than EBIF. So push that test and start rolling out.

Cable's EBIF Is Dying On The Vine

What happens when an industry is so resolute in its plans to protect it's turf against the competition that it draws a line in the sand only to see others attack from a different front. They lose. Such is the case in battle and so too in business. To stay so narrowly focused and unbending to changing external factors is a recipe in disaster. And so too the ultimate end of EBIF, Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format, designed exclusively for cable.

"It was invented as a way to add more oomph to the fielded base of digital cable set-top boxes, which obsolesced almost before they were installed. Ten years ago." But the world became Internet Protocol (IP) based and TV and other consumer electronic manufacturers, found more flexibility working with IP than with the cable operators and their EBIF technology. The result are not helping cable with the rise of more over the top competitors offering similar video content. These competitors found the different front and did an end around on the cable operators.

Can EBIF and IP work together? Some Apps are working to make it so for better connectivity and TV on the go. But it may not be the ideal technological approach. Ever wonder what those blue pop up screens are that come up on your TV for on demand movies and other ads. They are achieved with EBIF. And they look like decades old graphics. Clunky and downright ugly. Certainly not as clean and easy to interact with as other means. Communication has changed and EBIF has not. The consumer seeks more convergence and ease of use in their interactions with their video content. EBIF has to change or cable operators will continue to lose.