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CONNECTED Ask the experts: Streaming with Motty Lentzitzky, CEO, Comigo 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. 56 | KITPLUS - THE TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 99 MARCH 2015 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