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Pay TV 2019: not one-size-fits-all, more personalized

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Where will pay TV services be in a year from today? Two operators look at two very different aspects of their services ripe for change. One looks to segment customers for different levels of investment, while the other aims to more closely tailor their service to the interests of the individual subscribers.

aminocomAt NAB 2018, I had the pleasure of moderating two discussions centered around the effectiveness of Android TV as a platform for a video business. Amino sponsored the sessions and brought two operators to participate in the second pay TV operator-focused session.

Toward the end of the discussion, I asked the two panelists where they see their pay TV service one year from now. One operator focused on optimizing investment by differentiating between customers, the other looks to more closely tailor services to individual subscribers.

An end to one-size-fits-all pay TV

Emily Schierberg Cincinnati BellNormally, when we think about personalization we think about using data to better match content to a subscriber’s needs. However, Emily Schierberg, Director – Video and Applications at Cincinnati Bell, saw an opportunity to better focus the operator’s attention on higher value customers:

“In a year from now, we won’t treat all video subscribers the same. For a long time, it was ‘a video sub is a video sub,’ but as the dynamics of the video industry change, who we take on as a video subscriber will change. Some will have linear and we’ll invest with a managed set-top box and some will just be over-the-top, and we’ll consider that a win for our broadband. People still buy content with their Internet and whether that’s over-the-top or our linear, that’s okay by us.”

Focusing on higher value customers is becoming a business imperative for operators such as Cincinnati Bell. For those customers that still want linear TV services from the operator, providing a managed set-top box is a good investment. Powering that box with an operating system like Android TV can provide the customer with a modern interface and platform to integrate their online video services with traditional television.

A customer primarily interested in broadband may still be a good candidate to sell video services. However, partnering with online video providers and leveraging customer-provided video devices could be a more appropriate level of investment.

Pushing the boundaries of pay TV personalization

Ville Partanen is Director of Product Development Entertainment Business for the largest pay TV Ville Partanen DNA Finlandoperator in Finland, DNA. The company has recently rolled out an Android TV solution provided by Amino. One of the strengths of the Android TV operator tier solution is a robust recommendations framework. However, the Google solution doesn’t make the recommendations, it is up to the operator to decide how the suggestions are delivered to the user. This is something Mr. Partanen is keen to leverage in the coming year:

“We are not as far along with the personalization as we would like to be. With proper personalization, we will display you the content that you are likely into. It’s a big push for us next year.”

Desire for personalized recommendations pay TV subs 2017Service personalization is a very important feature for operators to include. According to data from TiVo, just 18% of pay TV subscribers say they receive content recommendations from their pay TV operator. Of the 50% that say they do not receive recommendations, half say they want them. The numbers wanting recommendations are growing strongly. One year early, 44% of the group not receiving recommendations said they wanted them.

I will be sharing more from the Amino-sponsored event in the coming weeks as we covered some of the most pressing issues facing pay TV operators and content providers.

Why it matters

Personalization is a critical tool for pay TV operators as they move into the connected age of media.

Some are focused on more closely tailoring the way content is presented to subscribers.

Others are looking to differentiate offerings to subscribers to more closely match operator investment to customer commitment.

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