What a week! Last Wednesday, Liberty Global held its annual Technology Summit at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam. At that amazing venue together with our vendors & partners, we heard some great keynotes about ‘Transforming for Tomorrow’, had a few of our local country CEOs share learnings and success stories, and showcased the latest innovation in connected entertainment. With 1,900 attendees and 150 sponsors, it was the largest Summit we’ve hosted so far.
At the event together with the VodafoneZiggo team we met with journalists to show them Horizon 4, our new suite of entertainment products we officially introduced this week. The product demo marked the latest milestone in our six-year-and-counting Horizon story. We’ve come a long way since embarking on our journey of delivering ‘endless entertainment’. And millions of TV boxes and mobile app users later, I could not be more excited to help take Horizon to the next level.
We’ve invested significantly in a simplified hardware portfolio. Why develop 10 different TV boxes if you can use the same one everywhere! In parallel, teams all across Europe have been working on a totally newly-developed TV user interface with new features, apps and content as well as further improving our mobile app.So now, it’s here. But what is Horizon 4 all about? A superfast set-top box with 4K Ultra HD picture quality and a voice-controlled remote control. A faster user interface with easier menus and fewer clicks. A new version of our successful ‘GO’ mobile app which offers a viewing experience that’s seamlessly integrated with the one on the big-screen TV. Or ‘360-degree viewing,’ as it is called.
These products are the result of engineering teamwork, as well as our teams getting feedback from thousands of customers to better understand the role that technology plays in their lives. From how they use our products today, to how connected entertainment helps them make the most of every moment. And what they did, or didn’t like about what they got from us. The insights we got from the research showed that our customers lead increasingly ‘fluid lives.’ From the past with one TV screen fixed firmly in the living room, to today with many different screens including major mobile usage – our entertainment customers demand limitless freedom, flexibility and choice.
You’ve all read these stats somewhere – already by 2020 we expect half of all video content to be viewed on mobile devices. But how about a smooth transition back and forth to the ‘big screen’ at home? With Horizon 4 that’s easy. You can continue watching on one device exactly where you left off on another. There are watch lists, shared across devices, allowing you to easily keep track of things to watch. Recordings will mostly be available on all devices, whether you’re at home or on the go. Recordings which, by the way, are stored in the cloud so no need for a hard-disk inside the TV box anymore. Pretty convenient stuff!When it comes to that big screen – these days you want an awesome, immersive, cinematic TV viewing experience. So we’ve built 4K Ultra HD into the TV box, to work in tandem with your 4K TV. Of course this also requires even more 4K content to be available, but at the rate production companies and parties like Netflix are creating it that should not take too long.
But then there’s the question of what to watch. There’s been explosive growth in exciting content in recent years. Ozark, Black Mirror and standup comedy specials are amongst my own personal favorites – but I accept they’re not to everyone’s taste. That’s why we’ve set out to help customers easily find the content they want, and discover new content they will love. The platform also offers tailored recommendations to make your viewing experience as personal as we can. Plus, the Horizon 4 user interface is fast and efficient: it takes you only a few clicks to get to what you want to watch. But to make it even more simple and fun, a feature that will greatly help in this area is voice. “Play Frozen”, “Go to BBC1” and “Movies with Tom Cruise” are just a few examples of what’s possible with our new voice remote control. Trust me – try it out and you’ll fall in love with it.
And in terms of features of Horizon 4 and the ‘GO’ app, there is a lot more where this came from. All in all, a really important step forward for Liberty Global. To be sure we also deliver at the quality level customers demand from us, we are now taking the rollout one step at a time. In The Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland we already have more than 10,000 customers who have been testing Horizon 4 for us. I am really thankful to all those people for their help. Together we’re making exciting innovation a reality. The coming months, a wider rollout of Horizon 4 will follow.
Say ‘hello’ to next-generation entertainment!
VP Entertainment Products