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Apr 082006

Cannes ©Gary HayesFirstly there should have been a big award to Brian Seth Hurst for being a major part of making the International Interactive Emmy Awards happen – there have been far too many parochial, slightly sycophantic national interactive awards over the past 8 years or so. These awards, regardless of the quality of the projects, the general isolation of the ceremony (read: not integrated yet into mainstream media awards) or the relatively small scale of the event – are truly a step change. The international perspective, judges and nominees, combined with the broad scope – from individual interactive formats, pioneer awards, interactive services and channels.

The event was well organised and joyously and irreverently hosted by Desperate HousewivesÂ’ Roger Bart, who knew a thing or two about interactive services – it seemed. Mark Burnett also strutted his stuff as a presenter. I was sat next to a great ambassador of interactive futures, Dr. Simone Emmelius – manager of ZDF Vision, one of GermanyÂ’s two public service broadcasters and it was great catching up with her. Also an old BBC colleague Nic Cohen (BBCÂ’s 24/7 commissioner) and soon to be LAMP mentor and all round web 2.0 pioneer David Jensen shared our table – which we quickly found out to be the Interactive Programme Judges table. Without giving too much away 😉 my scores were well placed and the user driven, organic ‘CultÂ’ show took the premier award. Their table was next to ours and it exploded in true jubilant French fashion at the announcement. Both Sky and BBC were placed in a couple of categories but we, the judges were I believe looking for services more forward looking and audience embracing – both Sky and BBC entries have been pushing similar formats for a good three or four years. The other two awards went to Hello D (S. Korea) for interactive service and the granddaddy of Broadband TV, Video Networks (London) for Interactive Channel – well done to Roger Lynch for that.

I do not think it is who wins the first few years of a new International Award, but that it becomes recognised as the one to get and it keeps going from strength to strength. Again thanks to the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences – there are many minor awards around the world for so-called innovative services, but as progressive media becomes mass audience and mainstream the enormous effort in reaching tens of millions rather than hundreds should be congratulated. I am sure the BBC and others will win with more innovative services in the coming years, a Jamie Kane with major TV component for instance would have gone down well. Perhaps Gold Rush will be there next year – Mark Burnett was here as I said presenting the Pioneer Prize to his mate Jonathan Millar (CEO of AOL), well deserved because as we know (and were told on at least 20 occasions) that Live8 has changed the landscape of TV, the internet and mass entertainment.

The three categories strongly suggest that it should snugly fit into the larger TV EmmyÂ’s. I also think that there could be several other categories – for example Interactive Programme could cover everything from participatory and user generated TV through to game, documentary, news and sport genre – but there is always next year!
Posted by Gary Hayes ©2006

Apr 052006

Will try, against all the odds, to blog a little about Mip and Milia while I am on the ground in Cannes at the moment. I am already two days behind but I hope to give a feel of what is happening over here. (BTW: The pictures are grabs from my 3G mobile phone, even though I am carrying around a Digital SLR, convenience plays a big role in the confines of this conference)
cannes As is usual with effectively two conferences combined there are two types of people. We have the buyers and sellers of straightforward linear TV intermingled with the ‘enlightened’ emerging media crowd – just kidding TV folk. That said 90% of the conference/presentations are devoted to what I would call transmedia, content distribution across broadband tv/pc, mobile & lounge screens.

Further blogs will be specifically about highlights from some of the presentations and about the exhibition, although I seem to be spending 80% of my time in the conferences (TV reloaded) vs the stands – and asking a lot of questions to boot (one of my strategies to keep awake, not that I need too!). A little about the exhibition. Amongst the seemingly thousands of stands there is still a little sign of immaturity regarding emerging media in that there are sections on higher levels called 360, interactive zone, mobile village completely seperate from the linear main market on level 1. Roll-on the day when this is all integrated. For instance there are a few unique stands openly selling interactive formats, participation TV across mobile and broadband etc: yet in the main linear level there is nothing but the usual 26×30 mins brigade. OK the discussions on the stands are all about mobile and internet rights, sure, but that I believe in many of the minds of the traditional buyers and sellers is a ‘nest egg’ for the future, in terms of retaining rights to something most people do not know quite what it is! Bizarrely as you will see in further blogs the conference is all about the big internet TV and mobile TV changes coming up.
It has been a nice personal experience for me meeting up with many old BBC colleagues and several US contacts. Tom Williams (Creative Director, BBC Interactive) showed me a cool ‘Tardisode’ (yes a Dr. Who mobisode), had catch-up chats with Nic Cohen (Exec producer 24/7 digital services) and Marc Goodchild (Walking with Cavemen and the Emmy nominated “How to Sleep Better, iTV service”) – great to see that these folk are all involved in the 360 sessions beginning on Weds (today for me). Also that the BBC are looking now into a cross-media future in a major way, although there is some work internally to facilitate that.

Mark BurnettAlso caught up with several US folk from DirecTV, AFI (hi Nick!), other US labs. Also bumped into Ferhan Cook (at the Mark Burnett talk last night) who has been organising Milia events since my first conference in 1996. It is wonderful to see that her hard work (in the early days TV folk used to snigger at this internet thing) is now really reaching fruition and the quality of presentations and real business models have come of age in the emerging media space. William Cooper of informitv though, agreed with me that the there is still someway to go for before the integration of ip and mobile television into the normal business cycle is mature enough for presentations beyond, “this is the next big thing – but we are not quite sure what it is”. There are other folk I shall talk about later.
Overall as you will see in the next batch of blogs there is definitely a buzz about the 2nd and 3rd screens, the business models are starting to stack up, everyone is talking about cross-media entertainment, the power of user generated content and participatory services, the technology is finally taking a back-seat (a great sign) and personalization gets a mention at every presentation and is splattered over many of the mobile, ip tv stands. Many speakers are talking revolution not evolution and the producers are all about facilitating great ‘viewer’ contribution/participation programming. But as my old mate Brian Seth Hurst (from many milia’s ago) said as we were leaving the mobile TV content showcase, paraphrase “what we would give for truly ground breaking innovation, we are still waiting for really inspirational services”. We truly are coming out of the ‘linear’ woods into a bright new green field of ‘anything is possible media’ as content anywhere, anytime at high quality, two-way participation etc etc: soon to be available to all producers (especially users) – there is something really in the air here. Hope I can waft some of it to where you are.

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2006