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What Consumers Want from TV/Video Solutions - Reviewing Ericsson’s White Paper

by David Mercer | 7月 13, 2009

Niklas Rönnblom, analyst at Ericsson’s ConsumerLab, recently blogged about the company’s white paper called “What Consumers Want from TV/Video Solutions”. This document discusses how television and video consumption is changing and the challenges this brings for service providers. The background assumption in the paper is, not surprisingly for Ericsson, the concern that the “managed” TV/video industry will suffer because of changes in consumption habits. A key conclusion is that this industry will not be able to respond effectively until regulations are changed to create a “level playing field” so that traditional providers can compete fairly with emerging content and service providers. Finally, the report’s recommendation is that “The goal should be to offer user-centered high-quality services that motivate consumers to stay legal; not a system or service that “forces” them to stay legal”. The paper offers a series of logical arguments to support the notion that managed video/TV services should play an important role in keeping illegal content distribution to a minimum. It even attempts to quantify the relative value of countermeasures such as “fear of getting caught” as factors in consumer decisions over which content to consume. Thus far the paper does a good job of analysing the impact of illegal content distribution on the traditional, ie legal, industry. One or two observations should be challenged, however – first, the assumption that “traditional TV distributors, as well as telecom service and content providers, are failing to satisfy consumer demand for TV/video services”. This statement will come as a surprise to successful “traditional TV distributors” such as BSkyB, which continues to report customer and revenue growth quarter on quarter during the toughest economic environment in living memory. There certainly are some traditional TV distributors which are not performing as well as others, but there are different reasons in every case, and it is certainly not always because they are not offering their customers clips from Youtube or movie sharing services. Secondly, the paper’s motivation analysis is surely flawed: the main reason people watch TV/video is to be entertained, above and beyond every other reason. Instead, Ericsson positions this as a secondary factor behind the social role of content; people discuss TV shows, and feel socially excluded if they haven’t watched them; or they make copies of these shows and give them to their friends. While these social functions clearly have some relevance for many people, they are surely secondary, even for so-called “digital natives”. Would anyone really watch a boring TV show just because they thought everyone else was watching it? Ratings data would suggest otherwise. There is no doubt that managed service providers need to continue to roll out new services such as on-demand, personal content storage (DVR), integrated communications, HDTV and 3D. But it is a mistake to think that successful providers are not already doing this. The paper’s real contention is that these firms will not be able to compete when the same content is available illegally (and free of charge) from non-managed services. The paper does not have the space to go into wider issues such as the disaggregation of access and content, and the impact of emerging advertising business models (see my recent entries from the Future of Broadcasting content for further discussion). These questions will ultimately have a greater impact on the success or failure of managed TV service providers than unauthorised distribution of content. Twitter: twitter.com/DavidMercer_SA Client Reading: Global Digital Media Growth Slows to 2.7% in Q4 2008 Add to Technorati Favorites
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