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Four features Pay TV needs to provide a competitive experience

Android TV

Consumers are embracing connected TV platforms like Apple TV and Roku. These platforms offer advanced features most pay TV services lack. Here what operators need to do to catch up.

In this interview with Kai-Christian Borchers, Managing Director of 3 Screen Solutions, he discusses how his company helped Swedish operator Com Hem embrace a new role with its customer. The operator is using Android TV to integrate the worlds of pay TV and online video into a single experience.

Here are four critical features Com Hem needed in their service to make the transition to a 21st-century video operator.

Feature 1: An open app store

The reality is that pay TV operators no longer provide all the premium video their customers consume. In the U.S., almost two-thirds of households have at least one SVOD service. Of course, many have the top three services: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu. However, increasingly consumers are finding and subscribing to one or more of the 212 other services available.[1]

An operator cannot predict what mix of services each of its customers is using. So, it must have an app store that includes as many SVOD services as possible. The best way to do this is to pick an open app store that is already available on many other TV devices. SVOD providers already have an incentive to create an app for these open app stores, and even small operators can take advantage of the scale offered by them.

Feature 2: Universal search

Hub Entertainment Research released data which explored how consumers were dealing with many different sources of TV entertainment. As a solution to the complexity of finding something to watch, Hub asked if consumers would prefer all their services from a single source. A third of the sample group said that they would prefer a single source.

However, this does not mean people want pay TV operators to curate which services they can and cannot access. Far from it. They will continue to sign-up for and use any service that interests them.  What they need on the television is to access and search the services that they have.

Offering universal search across all the services available through the set-top box is a great value-add for consumers.

Feature 3: Recommendations

Every major SVOD service offers recommendations, yet less than 20% of US pay TV services provide them. Moreover, half of the consumers that do not receive recommendations from their pay TV operator say they want them. As one of the key ways consumers discover new content, making recommendations based on consumer preference and viewing behavior is an important feature that every operator needs to offer now.

Feature 4: Voice services

Consumers are embracing voice assistants. Between Q3 and Q4 2017, the number of consumers saying they own one increased 7% to reach 22%. As well, all the major streaming media players and smart TVs provide voice services. Simply put, without voice services, customers will increasingly perceive their pay TV services as out-of-step with their needs.

[1] At the 2018 Pay TV Show, Parks Associate’s Brett Sappington said there were 215 SVOD services available in the US.

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