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Why Can't IPTV Deliver Personalized TV?

Americas Network columnist in Asia reports that not long ago he was having a drink with a few friends, one of which is an avid video buff. Call him Patrick. He got to talking about IPTV, and Patrick agreed that it was a neat idea as far as it went, but so far, he was not impressed. Yes, he lives in Hong Kong, and yes, he has seen NOW Broadband TV, and yes, he loves their 'a la carte' channel subscription model. Well done, says Patrick.

But here's what Patrick really wanted to know: "Why can't I program my own channels?"

Patrick explained thusly: "NOW Broadband TV is essentially a better-priced version of cable TV, and they're essentially competing on a mixture of price and exclusive movie channels. But I don't want to get the same channels at a better price, I want personalized channels that are tailored to my taste."

Patrick's basic concept was this: IPTV theoretically allows service providers to provide a wider variety of choice because it's one IP stream sent from a headend video server to the set-top box. You don't have to broadcast all channels at once through a node, as cable TV networks do. So why limit that to the same old broadcast video channels all pay-TV players have?

Patrick emphasized that he wasn't talking about VOD, which is an event-based transaction not unlike, say, an MP3 download. "What I want is a pay-TV version of my DVD video collection. Why can't I have one channel with nothing but Star Trek shows, another channel with classic sci-fi shows and another with cult classic movies like "Omegaman"? I can get them all on DVD, so I know they're available. Why can't I order a tailor-made channel that allows me to subscribe to these shows rather than having to buy them on DVD?"

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