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Connected TV In Transition From Novelty to Maturity

by User Not Found | Nov 17, 2015

The overriding theme at last week’s OTT TV World Summit was that the connected TV market is well on its way to maturity. Business discussions are now centred on how to compete, how to win and retain customers and the new complexities associated with social media. This seemed to mark a clear divide from previous years when issues of technical viability and market entry strategy were more dominant. On my own panel looking at the differentiation challenge, speakers from NRK and Viewster agreed that there was really nothing complicated now about launching a new OTT video service – the challenges lie in surviving and thriving.

The social media dimension is perhaps the most interesting as we move through this middle phase in the OTT revolution. By definition many OTT TV and video service providers have emerged from a background where social media is a dominant force. This is in sharp contrast to traditional TV providers, who have struggled to engage with social media or exploit it to their benefit.

Christophe Rufin demonstrated how Orange has integrated Twitter into the big screen, live TV experience. Anyone interested in this approach should not underestimate the complexity involved in ensuring that the right Twitter content appears at the right time alongside live television programming.

We also heard from Facebook/Instagram and Sky, who ran a campaign earlier this year to promote the latest series of Game of Thrones. Sky’s particular challenge was less to raise aware of GoT itself but rather the fact that it was available on Sky Atlantic. Naturally enough, Facebook was keen to point towards improved awareness and consumption data, although neither Facebook nor Sky seemed certain how to respond to my question on whether they had accurately targeted only paying Sky TV customers. The point being that if they targeted a wider GoT potential audience (including non-Sky customers), there might be a direct financial benefit to Sky through increased pay TV subscriptions. It wasn’t clear if this potential had been considered.

Social media is in its early days for pay TV operators, but MCNs view it as integral to their business strategy. In fact one speaker went as far as saying that MCNs “can’t work on TV” because they are inherently social. The interaction is a major part of what their “viewers” value. I would go as far as saying that MCNs today are what some visionaries dreamed interactive TV would become back in the 1990s, just on smaller screens.

Multiscreen advertising also remains a challenge. Sky has achieved some success with its AdSmart targeting technology, but the holy grail is “sequential narrative across all screens”. Sky will be bringing AdSmart to mobile devices in Q1 2016.

The perennial issue of content discovery remains at the top of the OTT agenda. The ways in which viewers are finding content are changing dramatically and everyone is struggling to keep up. Many speakers repeated the old mantra that “people can’t find anything to watch” but this is a complex issue and there are many potential directions content discovery could take.

Aggregation has always been a key element in content discovery, and the question now facing the TV and OTT industries is how much will be needed and how will it take place. The aggregation role, traditionally the domain of broadcasters/networks and pay TV packagers, is now up for grabs. Brand owners at every level need to decide if and how they want to play that role and whether they can compete for it effectively.


David Mercer

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