From April, Miniweb Interactive will allow Sky viewers who have a broadband-enabled set-top box to search for and discover any TV-enabled web site, either by entering the channel's key number (similar to a shortcode that provides instant access to services or apps via a mobile phone) or searching for pizza delivery, say.
At the moment Miniweb Interactive supports 22 broadcasters/channels on Sky, the pay TV service in the UK, with interactive/red button services. Until now, it cost hundreds of thousands of pounds to set up such a channel, according to Ian Valentine, CEO, Miniweb Interactive, who says that each was obliged to develop "a stand-alone proposition".
Now however, anyone from John Lewis (an upmarket department store chain in the south of England) to a Scout troop in Southampton, England, can repurpose their ordinary web site for TV presentation and access via a remote control simply and cheaply because of the worldwide television mark-up language standard, which is what the new service will use. Put another way, it gives smaller companies an affordable way to advertise on TV.
Miniweb Interactive, Bouygues Telecom, SES and Microsoft worked with ETSI to establish the worldwide television mark-up language (WTVML - ETSI TS 102 322) standard. The motivation was to unify the Interactive TV content creation industry, which has been hampered by proprietary middleware and a lack of browser standards.
Valentine argued that this is the beginning of the web via TV as a mass medium, saying, "We are positioning Miniweb Interactive as the Google of TV."
Miniweb Interactive was formerly wholly owned by Sky, which completed the spin-off of the company off last September, retaining a 10% stake. Valentine concluded, "So although the company's technology was originally to facilitate Sky's interactive broadcast partners, it has been developed so that it works with everything else."
In a separate announcement at the IPTV World Forum, Ericsson said it has been selected to act as end-to-end IPTV systems integrator, solution provider and business consultant for Greece's OTE. The integrated IPTV solution for OTE comprises of headend systems from Tandberg Television, part of the Ericsson group, middleware application, content distribution platform and a customised consumer portal. The solution will also involve complete implementation and integration of tools for operational management.
The initial offer will include a variety of broadcast channels, video on demand, electronic program guide and personal video recorder capabilities.