The OTV Channel

Status date

  • Operation of The OTV Channel including acquisition of music video rights, MPEG encoding of music videos, uplinking and space segment, installation of BrandBoxes, operation of On-Line Picture Messaging, and the helpdesk.

  • Establishing customer, retailer and installer attitudes of the OTV channel through market research, interviews and written responses.

  • Proving the viability of the business plan, comparing projections with the reality of what happens during contract term.

  • Demonstrate how ESA has successfully invested in developing an innovative satellite service which it can demonstrate to any interested party, showing the value of such a contract and the huge advantage and potential value of new media over satellite into the future.

  • Development of the complete OTV Channel service including the On-line Picture Messaging and central playout systems together with the development of Customer Relationship Management systems. The ESA funding will be used to develop these elements.

  • Reliability of the network including the receiver systems (BrandBox) together with the reliability of the satellite network and central head end video playout systems.

  • The value placed on The OTV Channel by potential subscribers which will be supported by research findings.

  • The speed at which we can roll-out The OTV Channel and get into profit.

  • Price: The BrandBox and the subscription are very competitively priced.

  • Availability: Anywhere in Europe.

  • Scalability: Major chains can increase site numbers subscribing to The OTV Channel at whatever speed they want. There are no fixed costs to amortize.

  • Reliability/Compliance: The OTV Channel is a broadcast to a set-top box with no PC technology or human intervention. It is extremely reliable and gives control to head office.

  • Attraction: The very latest music videos will be on The OTV Channel the day they are released, giving subscribing retailers a very strong fashionable image.

  • Communication: 70% of buying decisions are made at the point of sale but communicating effectively with customers in retail outlets is very difficult. Putting audio-visual messages on high-profile screens between pop videos could be the most effective point of sale medium to date.

  • Flexibility: Unlike normal broadcasts, the unique content can differ in a single site, within groups or in the entire estate so the messages can be totally targeted and relevant to customers.

  • Accountability: Subscribers have the option to have the log files from their BrandBox recovered and processed every day, by us, to provide an audit trail for advertisers.

There are various hardware, software and communications components within the application network. There are three main network domains visualized in the diagram below:

  • Point of Presence Media's central site

  • The satellite uplink

  • The receive site network.

Point of Presence Media's central site contains the following elements:

  • Network Management Centre (NMC)

  • Transmission Bureau and video servers

  • Subscriber Management Database (SMS)

  • A client dedicated web server hosting real-time network performance data on powerful Compaq Linux servers equipped with 1 GB of main memory and 100 GB RAID drives.

The satellite uplink site contains the following elements:

  • The host-hub

  • The IP Encapsulator

  • The DVB based satellite uplink itself

The receive sites are equipped with a satellite dish and LNB, media player and optional return path.

The network used to communicate between Point of Presence Media's satellite uplink and the receive sites is the Sirius 2 satellite at 5º East.

The receive sites will optionally have dial-up or fixed access to the Internet which is used for the return path for audit trails and log files.

Point of Presence Media has a 20Mbit/s Internet pipe to its main ISP UUNET. This is used to provide access to all the site-specific data from anywhere in the world via a web browser. The client provides its own Internet access to an ISP of its own choice. Obviously bandwidth is a consideration and this needs to be carefully planned for.

The web server is used by customers to order up site-specific messages (Online Picture Messages, or OPMs) via their local internet connection and web browser. OPMs are delivered to the receiver systems via the satellite network. The web server also stores customer and site-specific exception reports.


  • Identify and procure satellite and terrestrial communications to develop, integrate, commission and run the pilot.

  • Develop, procure, integrate and commission hardware, software and communications elements.

  • Develop and procure the content.

  • Fulfill all the regulatory and formal steps.

  • Procure ancillary services, e.g. installation, insurance and access to sites.

  • Formalise agreements with user groups for their contribution to the project.

  • Make available the user groups manpower.

  • Train and coordinate user groups.

  • Achieve planned operation of The OTV Channel.

  • Collect, analyse and present evaluation feedback.

  • Develop rollout plan for operational activities.
Current status

The Pilot Utilisation Programme was completed on schedule in July 2004. Response to The OTV Channel has been most favourable, and the objectives of various trialists have been achieved. These include increased sales of products being advertised and improved footfall and turnover as a result of The OTV Channel installation.

New distributors and agents for The OTV Channel (including some industry leading names) have been approached and deals are being signed over the next few months. This includes agents for the sale of space on the channel, generating direct revenue through advertising and sponsorship to third parties - local, regional and national.

There have only been a few technical problems experienced on site, and most of these have been due to 'finger trouble' or leads being unplugged; the technology has performed reliably. Developments are at the stage where the operational service is ready for the market roll-out, although there are several enhancements we would like to make in future which would add significant value to The OTV Channel.

Many of the sites currently involved in the pilot want to keep The OTV Channel on a subscription basis now that the Pilot Utilisation Programme has come to an end. Discussions with the site owners and operators will follow, with a view to rolling the service out into their estates. There are also a significant number of leads in the sales pipeline which are expected to close before the end of 2004.