The ascendance of the Internet and the abundance of video-capable, network-connected devices have effected major changes in content production, distribution and consumption. It is now clear that the future of content services lies in understanding the new Engagement Model. Two operators who seem to have figured it out are Orange France, and Comcast.
TV and video services are no longer about subscriber ownership. In such a competitive landscape, one cannot hope to capture subscribers, only captivate them with compelling and high-quality content. The integrity of the content must be secured, the business model easy to understand and, today more than ever, the User Experience must be satisfying, efficient, attractive and unique. It’s not about how many subscribers you have, but how well you engage them. To that end, Orange combined all their Pay TV “silos” (over ADSL, fiber and hybrid satellite/IP) on a single platform, dubbed NewTV, to allow them to unify the experience and increase the speed in which they could innovate and compete. At the same time, Comcast set out to unify their customer experience via their X1 platform, switching to an IP-based service platform for similar reasons.
Today’s consumers want unrestricted access to the content they find valuable. To achieve this ‘simplicity’ requires a complex, high-performance system that approves authorized viewing as swiftly as it quashes un-authorized access. From a user’s perspective, clumsy navigation is intolerable. Intelligent discovery is expected, personalization is taken for granted and ‘Click for more’ has become second-nature. As a service provider, you can survive if you’ve got exclusivity of content or territory; that survival will be short-lived if you don’t evolve (ignore Netflix’s inexorable international expansion at your own risk).
Comcast have worked tirelessly to add more multi-screen content to their TV Everywhere platform, adding them to their unique X1 multi-screen experience. For a legitimate quad-play operator such as Orange, the priority was to improve the User Experience, adding personalized recommendations and extending the TV service to mobile devices (and their 27M mobile subs).
Engagement means providing the means for consumers to interact; to share, binge, rewind and relive the content. It means allowing each individual the interactions they value. It means allowing consumers to immerse themselves in content by providing them with enrichment around the celebrities, content and topics they are interested in. By creating engaging experiences, service providers can also facilitate a better quality of engagement between brands and the audiences that they covet, creating value for both sides (as well as a lucrative revenue stream). Comcast has expanded the market reach of their engagement-centric X1 ‘video operating system’; rolling it out across their footprint, licensing it to other MSOs and the proposed TWC acquisition and spinoff. Orange launched a 2nd screen app for Game of Thrones with unique ‘deep-dive’ enrichment. Both operators have realized the importance of ensuring their unique experience speaks for itself and encourages users to spend more time immersing them in their world of content, rather than someone else’s.
As the demand for TV content continues to rise, the revolution in content consumption dictates that service providers need to implement a new model in order to be able to capitalize on it and stay attractive and relevant for their subscribers.
So, bottom line, are we bearing good, or bad news for the industry? A bit of both, is my answer; if you’re a Pay TV operator, strap yourself for a wild ride. At the end of the journey you’ll see: TV isn’t going anywhere. And what about online content providers? The good news is that the growth isn’t expected to slow down any time soon (See Netflix’s Q4 results). But competition from old school players -and new entrants alike, is defiantly going to intensify.
This article was originally published in The Era of Multiscreen and OTT Edition of NexTV Magazine 2014