By Erik Ramberg, Head of TV Platform Product Management, Ericsson Media Solutions
In a smartphone-centric world, on-demand, anytime, anywhere content has created viewing habits that have fundamentally changed the way content is consumed. While traditional linear broadcast – particularly live content – still has a role to play, millennial and post-millennial audiences access content in wide ranging and increasingly personalized ways, drawing from a range of sources such as social and online platforms.
Ericsson ConsumerLab TV and Media research shows that 54% of 16-19 year olds spend more than half their time watching on demand, an increase of almost 100% since 2010. For their part, service providers need to address the full gamut of services from cloud-DVR and on-demand, through to catch-up and time shifted TV to offer an equally compelling proposition.
Relevance and personalization deliver value to consumers
This shifting landscape puts pressure on service providers to deliver more content via more platforms, more quickly. Legacy EPG and ‘by-category’ lists are no longer adequate to respond to these evolving viewer habits.
Yet, more does not always mean better. With the variety of programming growing across all sources, meaningful content is becoming increasingly difficult to find. Ericsson ConsumerLab TV and Media research shows consumers watch over 30 hours of media per week yet spend nearly an hour searching for something to watch every day (51 minutes). Enhanced personalization and content discovery is therefore critical to delivering value to the consumer.
Today’s content must now be prepared across a wider range of media formats, meeting the requirements of different encoding schemas and digital rights management (DRM) frameworks. As relevance and personalization become increasingly important for consumers, service providers must also insert or pre-roll targeted advertisements. The need for speed is even more critical when it comes to getting live content into on-demand platforms. This puts added pressure on video processing systems.
Cloud underpins the agility needed for innovation
For a growing number of service providers, cloud-based solutions are the answer. They deliver both the technical media conversion capability they need and the agility to quickly scale-up to meet demand. Their focus should lie in building a network-quality service that brings together the breadth and depth of premium content with the personalization, speed, flexibility and continuous innovation of over-the-top (OTT). An end-to-end cloud solution brings significant efficiency benefits. Thanks to common infrastructure and storage, content is involved in fewer processes between ingest and delivery to on-demand hosting platforms and streaming services.
Our MediaFirst Video Processing solution provides a software-defined, media optimized cloud-based platform that addresses the need for a compelling premium service over any platform. The solution leverages the best media processing for a given application, enabling service providers, broadcasters and content owners to evolve their infrastructure and deliver a consistent viewer experience regardless of device or format. As service providers seek to match shifting consumer habits, the need for the flexible creation, management and delivery of video experiences is critical. Our MediaFirst Video Processing solution delivers on-demand encoding capabilities that underpin high performance file-based transcoding, specifically tuned for a range of services from VOD content to catch-up TV.
For younger consumers, ad-free services such as Netflix are preferable to ad-funded linear services. From our ConsumerLab TV and Media research, we can see this audience segment is willing to pay $5 to $10 to reduce or eliminate ads completely. Service providers must increasingly leverage subscriber and viewing data to better understand what viewers want and to help them deliver a more immersive – and relevant – experience. Service providers must also engage with viewers on an individual level. Through the use of actionable analytics, these service providers have unique insights to enable business decisions on content catalogs, scheduling and acquisition to create personalized offerings for different market segments.
Managing the complexity of next generation TV
The knock-on effect of delivering this type of next generation TV service is added complexity, cost and time. Service providers are turning to scalable cloud-based solutions to help them manage this in a more unified way. Cloud solutions also allow them to scale the multiple servers and applications required for multiple processes such as storage, video streaming, OTT video streaming and transcoding.
The modular architecture of our cloud-native Video Storage & Processing Platform (VSPP) is designed to do just this. A multi-network, multi-device, multi-server solution, it enables scalable ingest and storage of video content across a range of applications, whether small origin servers for VOD or huge distributed private copy cloud DVR systems. With the added benefit of integrated media processing capabilities, such as content packaging and encryption, our VSPP enables broadcasters and service providers to optimise their storage options and increase multi-screen performance for the benefit of consumers.
Unlocking the new reality with better data
TV service providers must now respond by integrating third party services and capturing data relating to viewer behavior, device and platform preferences to create personalized, tailored recommendation and user experiences across live and on-demand service offerings. To achieve this, we know that existing infrastructures may require an update to support the flexible, scalable workflows that will enable new services. With the consumer now firmly in the driving seat, service providers must embrace and address this new, and often changing, reality by building agile foundations that support a more immersive and personalized viewing experiences.