By Tim Pearson, Sr. Director Product Marketing
NAGRA’s recent webinar “Talking TVkey” brought together leading pay-TV service providers to discuss the future of direct-to-TV services and focussed on the considerations, challenges and benefits when compared to deploying traditional set-top box (STB) devices. The webinar provided a number of fascinating insights and discussions on the challenges faced by the wider industry. To catch-up with all the action, access the recording via the link at the end of this blog.
Direct-to-TV solutions such as TVkey, a solution jointly designed by NAGRA and Samsung, deliver a wide range of benefits for manufacturers, operators and customers.
HD+ was the first service provider to deploy TVkey a year ago and has subsequently seen success in a number of areas. “I must underline that it is a win-win-win for the whole value chain. Consumers will gain control over their content in a streamlined convenient manner, operators are able to increase reach to customers without investing heavily in STBs, while manufacturers can offer compelling services on the TV, therefore increasing the value of the product,” said Georges Agnes, COO of HD Plus. “One consideration we had when implementing our service on the TVKey solution was the impact the HbbTV operator app would have on traditional distribution channels. The rate of converting installations, TV sets sold to the households and apps installed on the TV sets – that ratio was fundamental to us, and since launch, we have seen high double-digit percentage call up and installation rates which is very positive. A lot of users are actively launching our app and using HD+ services on Samsung TV sets.”
The webinar also looked at another key consideration when discussing direct-to-TV services, namely the operator UI. How can it co-exist with the TV UI in a manner that makes sense to an operator? NAGRA and Samsung have worked in partnership to create an ecosystem that offers operators full control over key elements such as the guide, channel list and zapper bar, whilst co-existing with Samsung’s UI for all the other TV functions outside of the operator application. “At the core of the application environment, we have the HbbTV operator app – developed to give this level of control to the operator to co-exist with the UI and middleware of the TV. This is just housekeeping for TV settings and is a happy compromise from a number of very experienced people across the value chain,” explains John Adam, Director of Business Development at Samsung Research.
For many operators, a key benefit of a direct-to-TV solution is providing consumers with an appealing service offer that facilitates an ‘impulse purchase’ during the set-up of their new TV that then installs the operator’s application onto that TV. Once the app is installed, the operators brand becomes the first thing consumers see when they turn on the TV and is akin to the previous STB experience.
The panel also explored how consumers can switch to other operator services–in the same way they may switch their mobile phone provider on their owned mobile device. Pedro Bandeira, Vice President Product and New Business, Europe at Deutsche Telekom commented on this point by saying, “Operators need to control the interaction with the customer. We are making life easier for their customers to go to the competition, because if they feel that wa –we should facilitate their decision and enable them to come back to our service in a positive manner.”
Miguel Rodrigues, Group Head of TV Product at Vodafone agreed, adding: “When talking about consumer churn, the low investment in direct-to-TV isn’t as large as the investment gaining new customers with a STB, so it can help operators accept that customers leaving is not necessarily a bad thing and can be regained at a different time. It also increases the possibility for new customers through bringing the operator app into new homes, so it is a balance.”
As the market evolves and operators are faced with not only further pressure on the economics of supply but new channels to market, it is likely that more operators will move to direct-to-TV solutions to optimise the overall customer experience. The market share for smart TVs will be a contributing factor to the pace at which this evolution takes place. As prices reduce year-on-year and the technology matures, it becomes an increasingly accessible channel through which consumers can access extensive pay-TV services.
NAGRA and Samsung are paving the way in innovating new solutions that benefit the whole value chain. When forecasting the future of pay-TV, it ois clear that the migration to direct-to-TV technology is a no longer a question of ‘if’, but rather ‘when’.
To view a recording of “Talking TVkey’ on-demand, please click here.