By Alex Wilkinson, Head of Sales and Marketing, EMEA & LatAm Accedo
Over the years we have seen numerous examples of operators launching compelling services that are often met with much excitement from consumers and which have created successful, high-growth, businesses. Sky’s Now TV service and Viaplay, initially launched as Viasat OnDemand, are two such examples.
We can’t assume, however, that pay TV is free of its own unique challenges. There’s more to embracing, and thriving in, an OTT world than just sticking some content behind a paywall or an authentication system and letting the magic happen. If you build it, maybe they won’t come. Or maybe they will, but after a while, they’ll get bored and wander off again. Oh, these accursed, fickle, consumers!
Here at Accedo, we’ve been helping pay TV operators be successful in this brave new world for many years, and whilst we all continue to discover new lessons, we reckon there are five core things to take into consideration when implementing OTT services for pay TV operators:
1. Desire to Customise the Experience
When pay TV operators first began experimenting with OTT services, one of the biggest bugbears was the inability to customise the set-top-box experience. Build it once, put up with it for years. As with any provider, the operator wants to ensure the video service it’s delivering faithfully conveys the company’s branding and ethos. This has historically been challenging for pay TV operators as the platforms have not been flexible enough to enable that. It is hardly surprising therefore that when Android TV became customisable enough to launch as an operator-branded platform there was a marked increase in market interest. Using solutions such as Accedo’s Android TV launcher, pay TV operators can build OTT video services on Android TV with an extremely customised look and feel which can be quickly and dynamically changed based on numerous criteria, allowing a far more tailored experience and the chance to experiment.
2. Not all set-top-boxes are created equal
It’s not all about the app, stupid. A happy customer can so easily become an annoyed, Twitter-crazed fool if his service is slow and unresponsive. Service optimisation demands an intimate knowledge of the configurability of STBs and how to architect a platform to provide a service which every bit as engaging and snappy regardless of the platform it’s being used on.
We know of one operator that did some due diligence talking to another operator about their set-top-box choice before deciding. As it was working well for that operator, the box was selected. However, with a different configuration, the level of performance was seriously impacted. Getting it right is about selecting the right set-top-box for your needs, which requires deep knowledge and understanding of those devices and how they perform in different setups. It is also about knowing how to integrate a really fast, highly performant service in a complex environment.
3. Replicating existing service
It can be all-too-easy for a company such as Accedo to stroll into a pay TV operator and say this is how consumers interact with OTT services and what you need to do. However, in the pay TV world, it is not so simple. Consumers generally expect a similar service on an OTT platform as they get on the normal satellite or cable platforms, with a familiar look and navigation. The key is to look first at how people are using the existing service then replicate that at the same time as augmenting the service by enhancing engagement possibilities.
4. Integration points
Pay TV is unique in its need for many more integration points than other services. Building a service in this arena means considering integration with existing infrastructure, including subscriber management, storage, and distribution systems. You cannot simply plug and play, this needs careful planning and consideration.
5. Broadening Horizons
We are beginning to see a number of pay TV operators looking to broaden their horizons, enabling people outside of their subscriber base to access some services via something like a Roku box or Fire TV stick. That is pushing them into a whole new world and it can be daunting to know where to start. That is where working with a company with experience makes a huge difference and strips away risk. We aim to build it so when they come, they stick around.
Pay TV still has its own unique set of challenges to overcome when going OTT, however, the technology and tools are available. The key to a good implementation for pay TV operators is in understanding these challenges and having the right experts on board to help navigate them.
If you would like to learn more about our experience working with pay TV operators, come and see some of the services we have deployed at IBC. You can schedule a meeting or find us on stand 14.F08.