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Why HTML5 will be the future of TV

Justin Pearse is MD of The Drum's content marketing agency The Drum Works and is a member of BIMA's executive committee. He is a former editor of New Media Age.

YouTube arrives on Freesat

It’s become a pretty widely accepted idea that the future of mobile is HTML5. What isn’t so widely discussed is that the future of TV will be too.

At least that’s the clear message I picked up at an event hosted by Decipher this week on the emerging TV landscape.

For brands and agencies the emergence of HTML5 as the basis for new connected TV environments could be very significant in areas such as enabling EPGs to handle new ad formats, with far greater graphical and interactive input.

It will also make the integration of third party content and services into connected TV services potentially far easier. Freesat, a fast growing player in the broadcast market with three million boxes sold over the last four years, has built its hybrid broadcast broadband offering on HTML5.

As The Drum reported recently, YouTube took advantage of the technology to launch an HTML5-designed app on the platform. The advantage of HTML5 is a dramatically improved integration process, making deployment far quicker than traditional routes.

The app is in fact said to have been turned around in matter of weeks.

What’s so fascinating is to see the future of TV being built on open web standards. In exactly the same way that many in the mobile industry are betting on HTML5 to further stimulate open innovation on the mobile web, it could also play an significant role in driving the development of connected TV experiences.

There are numerous industry-wide initiatives taking place that will help drive the adoption of open web standards into TV even further, such as the European Hybrid Broadcast and Broadband TV (HbbTV) standard.

In addition, of course, open standards like HTML5 make global roll out of content services far easier than having to develop for multiple proprietary TV platforms.

HTML5 is gaining such traction in the TV industry that there was even a firm prediction at Decipher’s event that YouView, which was built in Flash, would be soon rebuilt in HTML5 in order to keep up with development cycles.

As the web and TV continue to merge, it is internet-speed development time that needs to be taken into consideration rather than the more languorous pace of traditional consumer electronics.

None of this is particularly new. However, a momentum does seem to building in a focus on web standards in breaking down the barriers between the linear TV experience and an on-demand, web experience.

The impact of the web on the TV industry has arguably been far slower than was expected back in the early days of red button and Sky’s Open interactive TV service.

The adoption of open web standards should be incredibly important in accelerating its influence.

In the digital industry, it’s far too easy to become blinkered to anything happening on any platform, technology or media outside your day to day focus. Social media, ecommerce, UX, content marketing, mobile, and so on - every area moves too fast to risk taking your eyes off your primary are of focus.

But in fact this is why it’s so refreshing to take a step back, to re-focus and understand the in-depth challenges of another sector, like connected TV. And appreciate once again how many common challenges and approaches exist across all sections of the digital industry.

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