While multiscreen services are well established in Europe, writes Fleming Lampi, Global Product Director, ACCESS Europe, the bell is tolling in Benelux, Scandinavia, as well as some areas in Central and Eastern Europe.
The sound of the cord being cut as millennials and Generation Zs breakaway from pay-TV subscriptions in favour of other services also echoes an earlier trend in the US, where nearly 8 million households have turned their backs on traditional services or not signed up at all over the past five years.
However, there are opportunities for operators to flourish beyond the borders of the western world, where highly lucrative markets lie. According to Digital TV Research, the global number of pay-TV subscribers will increase to 1.9 billion by 2020, passing the 1 billion mark by 2018, actively fuelled by emerging markets in the Asia-Pacific and Sub-Saharan Africa. These regions are ripe with potential, as long as operators solve three primary multiscreen challenges:
1) Deliver content to a multitude of devices
In emerging markets such as India and Sub-Saharan Africa, multiscreen is the norm and consumers are watching content across a range of devices.
India, the world’s largest content market, is also the world’s second biggest smartphone market with 220 million users and 75% of all internet usage done through mobile devices.
In high growth countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, the population of mobile users now amounts to 12% of all subscribers in the world and makes up 6% of global revenue.
To be successful in these mobile-friendly markets, operators must build a service that accommodates that particular region’s infrastructure and the viewing habits of its consumers.
Access has worked with Reliance Jio Infocomm, an LTE mobile network and FTTH operator serving the whole of India, to deploy next-generation services that deliver content to any device connected to the Jio Lifestyle platform.
In India, this meant providing the same experience on smartphones, tablets and set-top boxes inside the home, with the added benefit of remotely accessing the same content on mobile devices out of home exactly where it was left off.
2) Enable easy access to personal content alongside external sources
In addition to their own branded content catalogue, operators want to provide a one-stop solution for all media consumption – including external sources and the consumer’s personal library of content.
In countries where families are often spread over large distances, being able to share content with a sentimental value among relatives is key, as the whole family can rejoice at graduation ceremonies and weddings. Therefore, operator must move away from the traditional approach of siloed multiscreen services in order to increase customer loyalty.
The traditional model required consumers to navigate multiple apps in order to view personal, public or premium content. In a multi-device world, consumers want to be able to access content as quickly and easily as possible, without interruption due to the need to sift through numerous apps. Operators that follow Jio’s approach and resolve this fragmented viewing experience will be able to attract and retain more subscribers.
3) Securely deliver content across all devices
Home to the world’s largest film industry, piracy costs the Indian film industry more than US$3 billion and 60,000 jobs each year – it is therefore no wonder that content owners mandate adequate end-to-end content protection technologies before agreeing to distribute their high-value assets in the region.
This covers the full range, from Conditional Access (CA) to all flavours of Digital Rights Management (DRM), as part of content rights and syndication deals. This requirement is having a direct impact on service providers: without robust security solutions in place, rights negotiations with studios and content producers tend to stall, preventing operators from offering their high-quality content to subscribers.
Finding a product that allows the integration of current CA & DRM technologies and supports the end-to-end protection of multi-DRM solutions is crucial here.
This enables the industry to respond to the growing piracy challenge by deploying DRM solutions that can control devices automatically, effectively reducing the margin for errors and improving the quality of experience without relinquishing control of the content delivery chain.
Operators cannot ignore the opportunities emerging markets present. However, before entering these markets, they must ensure their services accommodate any combination of devices by following Reliance Jio Infocomm’s blueprint. If operators can provide a service that integrates the three primary challenges we presented, they can build a presence in high-value markets across the Asia-Pacific, Latin America, the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa.
About the author
Fleming Lampi is Global Product Director of ACCESS Europe