Streaming has forever changed our relationship with media. The shift away from traditional Pay-TV packages towards mobile-first bundles defines the ‘anytime, anywhere’ mindset that most audiences adopt today. We are witnessing one of the fiercest competitions between media companies in decades; technology giants are investing billions into new content and services to expand their digital audiences.
There are many benefits for operators looking to embrace streaming within their entertainment packages, not least in heightening consumer offering and increasing revenue potential. However, to survive in a world of giants and keep the sales engine turning, operators must embrace new technologies, partner with larger players, and develop new value propositions.
The rise of the aggregator
The direct relationship operators have with their customers places them front and center when forming partnerships and developing new media services. The development of sophisticated and unified billing processes within mobile business units has become a core component of the traditional operator business – uniting homes with broadband connectivity, people through mobile services, and providing a centralized bill at the end of each month.
Provisioning new services under one utility bill has seen operators embrace the role of service aggregators. Operators have welcomed the integration of popular streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and ESPN+ within MVPD offerings. It provides its customers with access to popular OTT content on-demand, with minimal complexity or additional cost. As simple as it may sound, the other critical value-add to the consumer is the ability to pay just through one bill.
The next phase is for operators to transcend into the role of super aggregators. Measuring audience consumption habits and providing unique billing puts them in an excellent position to offer a sophisticated commerce engine, aggregating mobile, video, and broader entertainment services. Operators have an opportunity to position themselves as the orchestrator of entertainment services being the combination of TV, video, and gaming platforms while opening up access to new immersive formats in the future, such as 360-degree video or Virtual Reality services.
Innovation is the driver of change
Operators have largely evolved with the cloud and mobile-first world, where much of the media ecosystem operates. They have achieved this by either building their own cloud services or partnering with larger players such as Google Cloud or Microsoft Azure. They have also played direct roles in this evolution, deploying cloud infrastructures and driving the global rollout of 5G.
We are now seeing a creative crossing of technologies between broadcasters, operators, and service providers. Advancements in cloud-based rendering, higher-powered compute capabilities, 5G, and mobile video streaming enable the delivery of any media service on any device. For operators to unleash their services’ potential, they must look across the media ecosystem and embrace cloud-first technologies.
This migration to a streaming-first world is changing consumer behaviors. Operators are now essential to our daily connections to social, work, and education services. We can also see how technology innovations shorten traditional value chains and evolve the relationship between broadcasters, content owners, and consumers. D2C (direct-to-consumer) propositions have enabled operators to become orchestrators of popular entertainment services – in turn, opening up two-way, transparent dialogues between brands and consumers. I believe the vast majority of service providers will increasingly rely on operators for coverage and reach. One recent example can be seen by the impact of the pay-TV operator TIM; Digital TV Europe reports that TIM paid around 40% of DAZN’s new rights fee to carry DAZN’s linear channels and its new Serie A soccer content in Italy.
At MediaKind, we have always believed innovation is the true driver of change. Our technology and experience put us in a unique position to serve the streaming-first world. We have pioneered several media space technologies to help operators tap into new media technologies and deliver modern media services. Our end-to-end solutions portfolio helps operators maximize their media services, including optimizing the distribution process, proposing the right user interface, and ensuring the latency and picture quality MVPD offerings are always optimized.
Tapping into the future of advertising
As operators assume the super aggregator role, the added insights into consumer data and consumption habits mean they can create a highly personalized experience while opening up new monetization potential. This is one area where operators have traditionally fallen behind compared with technology heavyweights such as Facebook, Amazon, and Google. These giants have built their businesses on delivering advanced advertising and, as a result, represent a significant share of the advertising market. Business Insider reported Google, Facebook, and Amazon accounted for nearly two-thirds of total US digital ad spending in 2020.
This market is where operators have a ripe opportunity to capitalize on their own data and catch up with the giants in the space. Partnering with broadcasters, operators, and technology suppliers enables them to work hand-in-hand to deliver premium advertising solutions and compete against bigger players. This blog by MediaKind’s Director Market Development, Advanced TV Advertising, Christophe Kind, offers some great insights into how MediaKind works with operators to deliver advanced TV advertising solutions and the benefits this affords them. You can learn more about MediaKind’s award-winning advanced advertising solution, PRISMA, here.
The dawn of super aggregation
The aggregation of streaming services is well implemented within the media landscape. However, the aggregators we see currently only integrate the top five or six streaming apps within their media offerings. This is mainly due to challenges surrounding content licensing and streaming services’ desire to retain exclusive access to audience insights. Becoming a true super aggregator will take some time, and aggregating channels and apps has to be done consistently to measure up to consumer expectations.
Universal search and discovery are crucial – yet challenging – elements in delivering an aggregated service at scale. If one service provider or one app is isolated among several other apps, the user experience becomes distorted and inconsistent. A truly aggregated search function must propose results from any app that has the desired content.
While achieving this may still be a few years away, the transition from hardware to software in the media processing space has radically evolved how content is acquired, delivered, and experienced. The transition has opened up a whole range of new experiences for the consumer and exciting business models for operators, broadcasters, and operators. The next chapter is to shift to cloud-native media components and media workflows. Operators are primed and ready to lead this change.