It is no secret that pay-TV operators in the western world are on the lookout for new ways to remain attractive and retain subscribers in an increasingly competitive and fragmented multiscreen landscape. With more pressure from OTT pure players on the one hand, and creative operators in emerging markets, the competition is becoming fiercer by the day, which means that it is time for a deep rethink of the way TV experiences are designed, delivered and secured.
We recently published a white paper with our partner Verimatrix on the topic, which provides a simple three-step guide to attract and retain subscribers without compromising on content control. To summarise it, let me go back to the three steps of multiscreen service design and delivery.
Step One: Serving a plethora of devices
The traditional approach to multiscreen consisted in designing one service for each device, which is why separate services for set-top boxes (STB), mobile devices, game consoles and so on still exist. However, according to Boston-based media and technology consulting group Altman Vilandrie & Company, 9 out of 10 US-based pay-TV subscribers have signalled clearly that they do not want a further increase in the number of video apps. What they really want is one app that aggregates all content sources and provides a great user experience on multiple screens.
Yet, the modern video consumption habits are multi-device, multi-platform and across many networks, and consumers will not wait until a service is made available across all their platforms of choice. In addition to today’s home entertainment screens, operators will soon have to condone with integration of their services with the connected car or IoT-enabled devices, resulting in even more pressure to deliver high quality services accessible both in and out of the home. By combining services centrally managed through the STB with cloud infrastructure to ensure they provide the same quality of service to every screen a consumer may want to use – and avoid risking losing eyeballs.
Step Two: Syndicating content sources efficiently
Exclusive rights enable content owners to make the most of their assets. To do that it’s critical that they know to best deliver these assets to each consumer. Exclusive rights are also of course incredibly useful in enabling operators to promote their offering and entice existing and new subscribers. However, for the end user, this creates a puzzle when wanting to access their favorite content: remembering which device-service combination gives access to a specific piece of content is virtually impossible in such a fragmented market.
To further complicate matters, there are examples when multiple series of a TV program or seasons of series can be available from different providers depending on the content deals that have been secured, making it even harder for consumers to use a single service for all their content needs. This leads to increased complexity for the end user, who cannot use a single service collating all content sources and providing access to all these at once.
More collaboration between rights holders, platform and service providers, network operators, and broadcasters would kill two birds with one stone. In addition to delivering significant costs savings on technologies and service development, it would also enable each player to retain its own branding and content catalogue.
Step Three: Securing the delivery of all assets
Seamless, end-to-end security across devices and networks, regardless of the content source or type, is the sticking point for the industry today. To support the studios’ requirements for premium content and to provide a truly integrated service as the one-stop content consumption solution for public, private and premium content, operators need to implement a combination of solutions. Conditional access (CA) and digital rights management (DRM) solutions are the most common content protection solutions. Integrated within the STB, large screen displays or mobile devices, they limit access to each piece of content to authorised users. This approach has been widely used and has proved effective at deterring piracy and blocking access for unauthorized viewers.
Consumers now have more services available to them than ever before, and for pay-TV operators to remain competitive it is crucial that they deploy the right technology in order to fulfill all of the end-user’s content demands. By building a secure one-stop content consumption solution for all types of content, pay-TV operators will be able to increase customer loyalty and offer a more personalised service that adjusts to the viewer’s consumption behaviour. In an era of content on any device, anytime, anywhere and many players vying for each consumer’s attention, operators that implement these three golden rules are the most likely to succeed.
By Dr Fleming Lampi, global director at Access Europe