3/16/2010 7:43 AM Eastern

SAN FRANCISCO — For the fourth year running, interactive-TV
icon Tracy Swedlow hosted her eclectic “TV of Tomorrow”
gathering March 3 to 5 in the visual feast that is the Yerba
Buena Gardens.

Noteworthy trends from this year’s TVOT: Managed versus
unmanaged, “TV Everywhere” versus over-the-top video, and
how to get real about the tsunami of data flooding service

Watch for this “managed network” phrasing to stay front
and center this year. A “managed” network is one that applies
technological QoS (quality of service) mechanisms to ensure
a consistent, high-quality, “five 9s” experience for the stuff you
get from service providers — voice, video, broadband.

The opposite of the “managed network” is, in essence, the
general chaos of the Internet. Best-effort access. What you’re
doing on the Internet, elbowing against whatever everybody
else is doing.

More and more of what everybody’s doing on the Internet
is video — and video is the fatso of the Internet, relative to
data and voice.

Which brings us to “TV Everywhere” versus “over-the-top”

Consensus definitions from TVOT: TV Everywhere exemplifies
a “managed” service. It extends existing TV-viewing
rights from traditional multichannel video providers, to other
screens. It gives Internet-based access to the TV subscriptions
people are already paying for.

Over-the-top, by contrast, is “unmanaged.” It’s about delivering
TV services “from the cloud,” with no dedicated device
or carrier controlling distribution. The players in this category
tend to derisively equate the word “manage” with the word

At TVOT, and despite what seemed like a 50-50 audience
split between people on the managed/TV Everywhere/cable
side, and the unmanaged/over-the-top/whipper-snapper
side, prognostications about which side wins came in repeatedly
as a tie.

My favorite clarifying comment about the debate came
from Ian Blaine, who runs thePlatform, a company straddling
the managed and unmanaged worlds to make video play on
multiple screens.

His perspective: “This is not just about control. It’s about
how to transition these huge operations that are very network-
intensive. If you took all available HD video, from every
operator, and tried to run it through the cloud — the cloud
would break.”

Also a big topic at TVOT: That data tsunami, simultaneously
the key to the monetized future and a matrix of pain growing
exponentially in every direction, every second.

Data is daunting, no doubt. But how else can you learn
that people who watch Syfy are more likely to own cats? True,
according to recent Rentrak data.

And probably useful info to someone like, say, Purina.