The EPG market is alive and well... and may be set to blossom in Latin America : Mostly Work and Politics
Ed Hall
Sailor
A passionate and experienced offshore yacht racer, Ed completed his 6th Fastnet Race in 2017.

The Night Owl team was 12th to the Rock in the 2015 race, 10th in IRC2 in the 2011 Fastnet, and overall winner of the JOG Offshore Series in 2009.  

Both yachts Night Owl 1 and 2 have a great history, winning many races during the last few seasons, including Line Honours in the St. Peter Port race to Guernsey, Royal Thames Trophy in the St Malo Race, and the 2017 Warsash Spring Series. 

Ed is also an active RNLI crew member on the Thames Lifeboats and races other yachts and sails for pleasure too.
Business
Journalist and 
Activist
Ed has been leading digital television and retail businesses since 1998. He has created multiple TV channels in news, film, sports and entertainment.  He also built and sold a group of TV shopping channels and sat on the board of a wide range of television and retail companies.

He has led on complex business projects in Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. He created the UK's first financial services televison channel, Simply Money, and also created the first non-Sky red button interactive service.  He is often credited with creating the market in EPG positions on the Sky platform.

He has served on the  board of professional industry bodies in Asia, Europe, and Australia and currently serves as Chairman of a Nigerian teleshopping company.

In 2011 he created Comux, a new company that beat the BBC to win the contract to build the national broadcasting infrastructure for the new UK-wide local television network, reaching 13 million homes.

In 2017 Ed took on a role as interim CEO restructuring a national terrestrial broadcaster in Greece. 

To discuss new opportunities or for advice you can always get in touch with Ed through his office at Expert Media Partners.
Ed founded and led the campaign to lift the ban on lesbians and gay men serving in the British Armed Forces, later persuading Stonewall to support it.  His book, We Can't Even March Straight (Vintage), was published in 1995. He received several awards for this successful human rights campaign which succeeded at the European Court of Human Rights in 1999.

Ed wrote and presented a range of programmes for BBC Radio 5 Live in the series Ed Hall Investigates winning a Sony Radio Award for News and Current Affairs in 1998.  The BBC News website carries details of his expose of a secret world trade in genetically-modified pigs click here.

Other radio programmes written and presented by Ed Hall include The First 100 Days (of the Blair Government) for BBC Radio, and Encyclopaedia Historica for the BBC World Service.  

In 1991 and 1992 Ed produced programmes for Channel 4 Dispatches and Thames Television on drug smuggling at Heathrow Airport and British mercenaries fighting in the former Yugoslavia.  
 
As a writer Ed's work has appeared in a very diverse range of publications including the Independent, The Times, the Sunday Times, the Guardian, the Evening Standard, and not forgetting Independent Grocer.  He is a regular commentator on broadcasting, business and technology. 
Blog and Contact
Ed uses Facebook most of the time to express views about current issues and generate debate, but from time-to-time he writes here too.  

He is also active and opinionated on Twitter and a search for @hall_ed will find him.
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The EPG market is alive and well... and may be set to blossom in Latin America

by Ed Hall on 03/10/19

If you are of a certain age, you will recall, like me, that a couple of decades ago we had to work out how to find television channels, either by flicking up and down through the channel numbers, or by tuning in to frequencies on satellites. Finding TV channels was actually quite complicated, and I’m not sure that digital native young people would even be able to make an old analogue TV work. It makes me think of that excellent YouTube video of two young people trying to dial a number on a rotary-dial telephone.

One of the biggest changes in the digital TV revolution was the introduction of Electronic Programme Guides, a user interface that allows viewers to navigate through a menu of channels. Over time the EPG listings and guides themselves have evolved to become high-profile assets.

When comparing how EPG markets and platforms have developed in various regions it’s interesting to note how the emergence of a trading market in EPG prominence has affected broadcasters and EPG listings in those areas. In particular, Sky in the UK is one of the most prominent platforms to have developed a trading market for EPG slots, with others like Virgin gently following suit. Allowing broadcasters to trade their channel numbers and to pay for prominence on the screens and menus is a business function in broadcasting, and it’s a market that is now a major source of dynamic movement in the channel line-up viewers see.

As a result, the platforms with EPG trading have grown tremendously whilst Cablevision, which is the largest cable TV operator in Argentina continues to remain without a trading market on slots, and that limits dynamic change, new entrants to the market and opportunity for new broadcasters. If platforms manage their own EPGs and are able to favour their own channels, I’m not sure it is the viewer who benefits.

Since the emergence of the Sky EPG market about fifteen years ago, there are now 534 channels available to the 10M+ households that have Sky. Initially starting out as an informal market with channels launching, closing-down and jostling privately for position on Sky’s platform evolved over time into a more formal market-place with broadcasters trading slots using Sky’s new ‘Listings Methodology’. This is a formal set of rules and guidelines devised by Sky to ensure the smooth transfer of EPG slots from one broadcaster to another. Broadcasters usually, but not always, secure the services of an intermediary such as our business when buying or selling an EPG slot and to ensure they access the widest possible current database of potential purchasers.

Cablevision possesses over 300 channels and provides additional internet and mobile services, similar to that of Sky but only has 3M+ customers across Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. There does not appear to be an active EPG trading market, and no public methodology is available. As Argentina goes through the DTT switchover, the question also begins to apply to the terrestrial multiplexes, how do channel numbers get allocated? How do new players get good numbers, and can broadcasters sell the channel numbers they have?

From the moment that the existence of a Sky EPG market became public knowledge, the valuation of positions also became a matter of commercial interest. When a broadcaster buys a slot (or channel number) on Sky, they are buying the right to broadcast their channel in that slot, as long as they meet the rules about the type of channel and quality and range of content.

Thereafter, that broadcaster has the right to sell that channel number to another broadcaster.

The Sky market exists because broadcasters quickly realised that different slots delivered different audiences and therefore had different values; a prominent position at the top of the first page delivered greater audiences than those further down. Those same principles apply today, and can also be applied to pages that promote new or premium content.

In 2018 Sky created a four month ‘trading window’ during which time existing broadcasters in Entertainment and Documentaries could swap and sell slots to each other before the platform implemented some major changes. Instead of the platform deciding where these huge global channels sat, the market decided. We represented the BBC in selling three sought after slots, 141, 142 and 143 and all the other major broadcasters bought, swapped and sold slots over the four-month trading period. It was a new and unique way to manage such a major change in the programme guide, and it seems to have worked. The ‘new look’ Sky EPG went live on 1 May 2018, with a channel line-up decided by broadcasters negotiating and trading with each other.

As newer digital markets mature and the platforms introduce new technologies and user interfaces, I suspect many will start looking to this commercial model as a simple way to manage the channels, and based on our experience here, it works well.

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