By Ivan Verbesselt, Senior Vice President, Marketing, NAGRA
Digital transformation is likely the critical innovation vector for operators.
Not that they need reminding – after all, if you look at the latest findings from the 2018 Pay-TV Innovation Forum, you can see how high digital transformation and innovation are on the agenda.
84 percent of pay-TV executives expect competition for paid-for video services to increase dramatically over the next five years, and 90 percent say they will have to innovate strongly.
And as TV and OTT converge, the pay-TV industry is increasingly evolving towards a platform-agnostic model, transitioning into a paid-for video market.
All in all, there’s no doubt that a digital denouement is coming – and it’ll be a truly transformational one.
It’s spawned powerful competitors who harness the cloud and rich datasets to drive personalised propositions and advanced user experiences.
Today’s digital denouement means that operators sink or swim based on the capabilities of their video backend, security, back-office, CMS, data analytics/AI and cloud platform.
Now, over the years, we’ve seen the progression from big fat packages to skinny bundles that are often topped up with at least one OTT add-on.
But the rapidly increasing popularity of these top-up packages holds a huge opportunity for operators to swing back to super-aggregation and create a truly unified experience by smartly combining linear and on-demand content.
But what will make an effective super-aggregator?
Well, it will be one that is consumer-facing, boasts a large user base, and be primarily a branded content distributor that delivers superior value for consumers through choice, flexible packages, price and convenience.
But the real key to effective super-aggregation will be the user experience – consumer behaviours and expectations are changing. Therefore, adapting quickly to different usage patterns in various clusters of viewers – the so-called “TV Tribes” – is key to securing broad-scale reach.
Users now need to be able to switch between multiple services effortlessly with a simple, uncluttered and engaging interface that doesn’t overwhelm them with options.
At the same time, UIs must create a bridge between content silos. Searching for the one show you want to watch shouldn’t mean having to access multiple apps.
Of course, if we want to have a conversation about this new super-aggregator skillset, it’s inevitable you end up talking about the leading device ecosystems on which diverse content sources naturally blend. Android TV emerges as a potential new level playing field at the client device side.
Google has clearly listened to the concerns of the market resulting in a proposition that is now much friendlier for pay-TV operators. And for many, it could be the watershed moment – the opportunity to have an Operator Tier branded UEX, Google TV services, direct carrier billing and more. It’s becoming an appealing opportunity, especially in view of these super-aggregation ambitions.
But offering a single unified experience across a wide range of content catalogues doesn’t have to translate into pulling all this content into a monolithic operator UI. While this will remain the approach for some operators, a more pragmatic approach can be to smartly leverage the de facto integration of SVOD apps into leading device ecosystems like Android TV and offer a unified content discovery paradigm to federate it all into one elegant content discovery journey for the consumer.
But whatever implementation option is chosen, pay-TV operators have a great opportunity to play a leading role in aggregating OTT services, becoming a central gateway to all content that consumers love.
But they’ll need to be proactive in claiming their new role as super-aggregators, ensuring an efficient on-boarding of OTT content and a seamless content discovery experience. That way, in becoming ‘smartly digital’, they can claim their leading role as the TV heroes of tomorrow.