Set-Top-Box Think-Tanking: An Agnostication Tally-Hoed

On Jan. 7, 2009, a group of comrades ventured to meet and discuss the current state of the state of set-top-box thinking in the U.S. Fellow travelers from other countries joined in the debate. Our first corporeal stab of the bare set top bones was presented at the March 24th MPG Collaborative Alliance:

Nielsen Bashing
Discontinue Nielsen panel bashing and onto the future two way communication with the set top box

Panel Based Necessities in the STB Realm
Confusion over STB data as a "census"
Numerical size

  • Local presence
  • National distribution
  • Platform representation
  • TV stations
  • Broadcast networks
  • Digital terrestrial
  • Cable (established vs. emerging tiers)
  • Satellite
  • Telco
  • Viewing vivisection
  • Demographics
  • Psychographics
  • Targeted consumer groups
  • Niche lifestyle segments
  • Synthesis of both viewing behavior and demographic data

  • Program selection dynamics (technology)
  • Digital video recording
  • On demand
  • Interactive program guide
  • PC integration

  • Advertising Delivery Dynamics
  • Addressability
  • Addressability plus interactive TV applications
  • -- request for interaction
    -- telescoping
    -- microsite activity

    Data overlays
  • Past purchase behavior
  • Predictive and descriptive data
  • -- front end/back end of a campaign

    Integration of STB data with traditional research
    STB data as an overlay to traditional panel data while parameters are established
    Broker the tradeoff between traditional research methods and the new type of data from STBs
    Establishing the questions we want the data to answer so we can figure out the answers

    Standardize dictionaries, definitions and namings to make linkage to other sources easier

  • Clocks
  • Program source and platform
  • Daypart definitions
  • Program genre definitions
  • Household characteristics
  • Measurement periods captured

  • Standardization of data processing & editing rules
  • Latency
  • Conform to current currency of ratings, shares, HUTS, PUTS
  • Relevant measurements or currency that apply to the new data
  • Consistency in data collection across all televisual platforms
  • Privacy
    Privacy protection and personally identifiable information

    The 360 Experience
    Measurement of the consumer not just the device

  • Multitasking/multiple screens
  • Ubiquitous media connectivity
  • The partiers:

    TVBoard chart

    If you have something to contribute or would like to join our deliberations at the next clandestine gathering at month's end, please let me know. To be continued. Over and out.

    9 comments about "Set-Top-Box Think-Tanking: An Agnostication Tally-Hoed ".
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    1. Dean Collins from Cognation Inc, March 31, 2009 at 12:17 p.m.

      Hi Mitch,

      If you are meeting in New York then yes I would love to sit in the corner and add value when and where i can (or if as I suspect you are doing this adhoc in a bar, buy you a drink after the next event)


      Dean Collins
      Cognation Inc
      +1-212-203-4357 New York
      +61-2-9016-5642 (Sydney in-dial).
      +44-20-3129-6001 (London in-dial).

    2. Ron Levy from MediaBank, March 31, 2009 at 12:57 p.m.

      Hi Mitch -

      I would very much like to participate in these sessions. Ultimately it will my (and my compadres') job to build the systems that support STB media.

      Please count me in.

      Ron Levy
      MediaBank LLC

    3. Roy Walter from kpmg llp, March 31, 2009 at 3:30 p.m.

      Likewise, I'd love to attend.

      Roy Walter - Media & Entertainment Solutions
      NY 212-954-8273

    4. K Owyang from Summer Research LLC, April 2, 2009 at 9:56 a.m.

      I would be interestd in attending:

      Kevin Owyang, President, Summer Research LLC,

    5. Tania Yuki, April 2, 2009 at 3:42 p.m.

      Count me in - would love to attend the next meeting.
      Best, Tania
      tyuki (at)

    6. Andre Szykier from maps capital management, April 6, 2009 at 5:18 p.m.

      It seems to me that set top boxes have to move away from a closed system to an ip and router enabled configuration. Slingbox and Boxee are redefining how media is recorded, watched and shared.
      If I can tell my Slingbox friends what I recorded, through IP addressing I can stream to them what I have, and they can likewise do the same.
      social networks meet media networks

    7. Alexander Lichstein from Spot Runner, April 9, 2009 at 3:06 p.m.

      Hi Mitch,

      I'd be interested in attending:

      zander (at)


      - Z

    8. Dean Procter from Transinteract, April 15, 2009 at 11:43 p.m.

      I hate to rain on your parade but I doubt that you are really focusing on your primary objectives here, rather acting on the possibly mistaken presumption that everyone will acquire the object of your group desires - some sort of super set-top box.
      I suppose it's something to do, during the downturn, discuss something which may well never be, but I think a rethink about what you are really trying to achieve and what is really possible is called for.
      There are other ways to achieve the marketing/advertising/ROI objectives which might be much easier to implement more broadly than any set-top box will ever be.
      Better to think about what billions of people can already do and how it relates to your objectives and see if you can utilise what we know does work, is already out there and perhaps wrap it up in a little perception of privacy and security and forge ahead with willing consumers.
      Waiting for it to rain set-top boxes is a defunct idea.
      Consumers will be past the concept before the first one hits the shelf.
      I can certainly think of another way.

    9. Alan Clark from Telchemy, August 30, 2009 at 4:33 p.m.

      Hi Mitch

      We are approaching this issue from a different perspective. We have STB software agents that are used for real time performance analysis/ quality measurement (i.e. to help service providers to deliver good quality to subscribers). We measure performance by channel within the STB, and hence gather a range of viewing statistics. At present we simply collect and report this data within our management software however it would be good to feed this into some larger effort.


      Alan Clark

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