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Collaboration enables transformation

Can the industry adopt more collaborative, viewer-centric approaches across linear, OTT and VOD services?

OTT, on-demand and TV Everywhere services are expanding the very definition of TV, creating a highly competitive and diverse media landscape which is helping to change consumer expectations forever.

Access to content anywhere, anytime and on any screen, is now a permanent fixture in our lives. We now have more content available at our fingertips than ever before. So why is it that we still feel unable to find anything to watch?

Ericsson ConsumerLab TV and Media research reveals that while average TV and video-viewing time has increased by 1.5 hours per week worldwide in the past four years, finding content to watch is still a huge frustration. In the US, the average viewer will spend 23 minutes every day trying to find something to watch on broadcast TV – equating to 1.3 years of their lifetime.

Consumers are facing the prospect of sifting through enormous libraries and catalogues of content. Is the “golden age of TV” just too much TV? As John Landgraf, chief executive of the US cable channel FX says, have we reached the “paradox of choice”?

Clearly this content discovery challenge is far from new – it is just becoming more acute.

Championing collaboration

Collaboration between organisations could be the key to solving this challenge. Last month, Sky and Virgin Media finalised a deal that will enable the two broadcasters to gain access to up to 30 million viewers in Britain and Ireland and deliver highly targeted ads by demographic and location. It is a timely decision.

A recent PwC report shows that while internet advertising in the UK is set to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.2 percent between 2016 and 2021 (reaching £14.1 billion by the end of that period), TV advertising is set to grow at a CAGR of 15.1 percent in the same time – but will be worth just £455 million by 2021.

By accurately measuring the way consumers choose their content, advertisers have more opportunities to target specific audiences and prioritise their likes and dislikes. There’s a mutual benefit for broadcasters too, in combatting the tyranny of channel hopping during breaks.

So, is this the kind of collaboration that we, as an industry, should all take heed of? Can we also replicate and adopt more collaborative, viewer-centric approaches across linear, OTT and VOD services? Can we develop truly cross platform recommendation and discovery solutions that reach beyond our walled gardens?

By leveraging smarter analytics and data, the media industry has the tools and the potential to address the content discovery challenge together, and through a better understanding of consumer preferences, there is an opportunity to secure loyalty and increase overall viewership. Collaborative deals such as Sky and Virgin Media are more than just exploratory – they are deeply pragmatic.

The potential rewards for all are clear; greater numbers of viewers, larger revenue potential and ultimately, a more satisfying experience for viewers.

Smart data driven intelligence, enabled through an extensive mixture of metadata, analytics and advanced algorithms, is helping not only to change the way media players connect with consumers, but also the way they connect and adapt to consumers’ experiences, preferences and viewing behaviour.

As an industry, we must embrace the possibility of collaboration and draw upon more open, innovative and faster technologies that will provide the capabilities and opportunities to compete and grow. We believe that collaboration is the key to unlocking and realising the true potential of the industry end-to-end; that’s one of the reasons why we decided to establish our open ecosystem of content discovery partners.

By better understanding the consumer and breaking down our individual walled gardens, our industry can make dramatic strides in improving the overall user experience and developing a truly personalised experience.

By Georg Mueller-Loeffelholz, head of data services, Ericsson