Ask the experts: Streaming


Motty Lentzitzky TV-Bay Magazine
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by Motty Lentzitzky
Issue 99 - March 2015
In today's multiscreen world, pay-TV operators are managing their customers' video streaming experience on an ever-increasing number of devices, including TVs, PCs, smartphones, and tablets. To compound this issue, viewer expectations have changed dramatically in recent years. During this Q&A session, Motty Lentzitzky, CEO of Comigo, explores the current streaming landscape, taking a close look at viewer demands, the challenges facing operators, and how operators can successfully navigate this rapidly changing and very competitive environment.

What are viewers' expectations today when it comes to watching pay-TV content?

According to Adobe, total TV viewing over the Internet grew by 388 percent in mid-2014 compared with the same time a year earlier, so it's clear that television viewers want content on every screen, but beyond that, they want exclusive, high-quality content that is personalized to their interests, preferences, and viewing habits. Therefore, it is important that operators provide personalized content recommendations to meet these expectations.

Personalizing the television experience increases viewer engagement. And we've found that when viewers are engaged with their service, they watch more content, including paid content like on-demand movies. When viewers are more engaged with the service they're also more exposed to targeted ads and e-commerce offerings. All of these things can boost revenue for operators.

In addition to personalized content, viewers are also looking for an interactive television experience that transcends traditional content such as linear TV and VOD. Operators can maximize interaction with the TV service by offering a variety of apps, such as real-time polls, trivia games, and TV Everywhere capabilities. Of course, the interactivity must be delivered in an integrated way that enriches the viewing experience; otherwise viewers might be turned off if the interactive television is impeding their ability to watch the television content itself. The apps need to be complementary to the TV viewing experience, rather than distracting from it.

Another significant demand is social TV. We've seen that viewers are increasingly tweeting and chatting about what they're watching, in addition to looking for content recommendations from friends. In fact, Nielsen found that tweets can actually increase a TV program's rating, so there needs to be some kind of socialization aspect to the television service, where viewers can interact with each other, find out more information about a program they're interested in, and follow the show's actors and actresses through different social platforms.

What are the key challenges that pay-TV operators face in delivering a personalized and interactive streaming experience?

One of the challenges is that the market is becoming saturated. Viewers have a lot of options today when it comes to OTT multiscreen services, such as Netflix, Hulu, LoveFilm, and Amazon Instant streaming, just to name a few. Pay-TV operators must strengthen their hold in the home in order to be competitive. Many operators are turning to multi-tuner PVRs, thin clients, multi-rooms services, residential gateways, triple and quad-play support, in addition to enhancing their traditional STB service, as ways to try and improve upon their service offering.

Outdated middleware implementations are another concern. Middleware is what drives the entire viewing experience, including the user interface and any type of new service the operator wants to launch. When middleware is outdated, it limits the operators' ability to introduce advanced services such as content recommendation and discovery engines, multiscreen support, socialization capabilities, targeted ads, apps, casual games, voice activation, gesture activation, etc. Operators need a middleware solution that offers flexibility and total control over their service offerings so they can introduce new features quickly and affordably.

Finally, I would say multiscreen support is essential! If operator do not have a platform that enables them to support new devices and device requirements without heavy hardware provisioning, that is a real problem.

Aside from providing personalized and interactive content, what are some other ways that operators stay ahead of the competition?

Operators need to learn from users' behavior and preferences. By taking into account the viewers' voice with regards to what kind of content interests them and how easily it can be discovered, viewers can have an impact on operators' offering. For example, as an operator, you may think providing a massive amount of content is important, but if no one is watching that content, that is a big problem. So how do you know whether content is satisfying viewers? By deploying cloud-based analytics solutions, operators can gain insight into viewers' behaviors and determine which content is most watched as well as how easy it can be accessed, and then tailor their service offering according to viewing patterns.

Catering business models to consumer needs rather than those of a particular channel, platform, or advertiser is another great way to stay ahead of competitors. We already know that multiscreen services have become an integral part of the pay-TV service, but research from Parks Associates suggests that offering content across multiple device types isn't the sole route to success. Operators must provide exclusive and premium content that engages viewers. Pay-TV operators, like the BCC, are beginning to offer original programming along with linear channels via apps as a way to compete with streaming providers like Netflix.

How important are data and analytics in the context of streaming services?


In order to offer content to viewers relevant to what they are watching, operators need sophisticated data and analytics tools. By providing detailed information about customers' most popular shows on VOD, live ratings, user engagement, social behavior, usage patterns, and preferences in real time, analytics help operators gain real insight into viewers' behaviors. Operators can use the data collected to shape the types of content they ultimately provide to viewers.

For instance, let's say an operator wants to determine which content is most watched. If the data they've collected shows that a large number of viewers turn off a sitcom after only watching for a few minutes, the operator can conclude that viewers are not enjoying that specific program. Or the operator might use analytics to test out a new app they're offering. Through monitoring viewing and usage patterns, operators can determine preferences and recommend customized content to individual viewers as a way to retain their viewership. This all relates back to providing viewers with personalized and interactive content in order to keep them engaged with the service.

What are some requirements that pay-TV operator should look for in a video platform?

Any operator can provide a basic set of features, such as video-on-demand, a channel guide, etc., but the key is providing all of these features on a wide range of viewing devices. This will ensure customers have a consistent viewing experience across all screens.

Another important feature to look for in a video platform is easy integration with existing back-end and front-end clients, such as provisioning, billing, CRM, CDN, and CMS equipment. Taking the complexity out of the integration process allows operators to introduce new services with a shorter time to market.

Choosing a platform with these features is the best way for operators to keep viewers engaged with the television service and increase their revenue streams.

How can pay-TV operators increase their revenue opportunities via streaming content?

There are some unique ways that pay-TV operators can monetize streaming content. In addition to offering premium content such as VOD movies, apps, and games, operators can really knock their revenue opportunities out of the ballpark by providing viewers with relevant content recommendations for paid content, and allowing viewers to promote their favorite content via social media. By increasing viewer engagement with paid content, operators will see their revenue streams go up significantly.

Additionally, operators can explore innovative options, such as delivering context-aware applications on top of the broadcast stream and by offering unique online services such as e-health and e-commerce. These types of monetization opportunities provide a more immersive and interactive television experience, increasing overall viewer satisfaction.

Finally, let's not forget about advertising. Operators can increase the effectiveness of advertising by launching micro-targeted campaigns and in-app advertising. As the streaming environment continues to evolve, there are sure to be a lot of new and exciting opportunities ahead!


Tags: iss099 | streaming | pay-TV | content | comigo | ask the experts | Motty Lentzitzky
Contributing Author Motty Lentzitzky

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