Content Everywhere exhibitors provide some of their thoughts on what the current trends are in the TV apps and content market — and how content providers should set themselves apart in order to retain audience engagement.
In 2021, Tata Group-owned electronics store chain Croma entered a partnership with Amazon to launch a new range of smart TVs with built-in fire devices for customers in India. The product offered streaming content from over 5,000 apps, including Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, YouTube, Disney + Hotstar, Zee5, and SonyLiv.
That certainly sounds like an awful lot of TV apps for your average smart TV viewer to wade through. Yet while the TV app is an important, and visible, part of the TV or VoD service that lies beneath, much more is behind the scenes.
As explained by Cees van Versendaal, COO of MwareTV, management of the service and a robust infrastructure for streaming are equally as important. “All three parts should work seamlessly together, be fully scalable to keep up with the growth of the subscriber base, be 100% up and running quickly and easy to manage,” van Versendaal said.
It is also becoming increasingly difficult for content providers to set themselves apart, while also ensuring they have a viable business model in place. Content acquisition and service marketing are other important elements to enable customers to both see and adopt a particular provider’s services. “Due to growing competition across the market, differentiation in business models attracts more attention,” van Versendaal added.
Keeping it personal
Ardit Aliaj, managing director of Magoware, noted that the coronavirus pandemic significantly increased over-the-top (OTT) consumption and the need to rationalise watching linear or live TV and VoD. “The primary focus for us was to display TV content simply and in a personalised way for the end-user, avoiding long navigation,” Aliaj said.
Right now the biggest focus is being put on content discovery, and aggregation through, for example, personalised suggestions and deep linking external partners,” Bart Lozia
Bart Lozia, CEO of Better Software Group (BSG), agreed that retaining the interest of the audience has become more challenging in the constantly changing and expanding TV app and content market.
“The available landscape of solutions creates a need for competitive advantage if you want to stay on top of the game. Every company needs something that goes over the current standard to make its presence in the industry. Right now the biggest focus is being put on content discovery, and aggregation through, for example, personalised suggestions and deep linking external partners,” Lozia said.
Bleuenn Le Goffic, VP strategy and business development at Accedo, pointed out that video services constantly need to look for new ways to keep audiences engaged while also offering value to advertisers or sponsors.
“These days, it is not just the big broadcasters who have the power to distribute high-value content,” Le Goffic said. “Most brands have made video a central part of their communication efforts and an increasing number of companies are now creating their own OTT apps to deliver a digital platform where they can engage directly with customers. This is particularly true in the world of sports, where federations and clubs are increasingly launching their own video streaming offerings.”
She added: “A growing number of video services means increased competition for content providers. The pressure is on to deliver something unique that is a perfect match for what their audiences want and need. There are many different types of content providers and each is likely to have different needs in the app development process. What works for a small organisation launching its first TV app will be very different to a large broadcaster extending its existing catalogue to be available across multiple devices. That said, it is easier than ever to launch an OTT service, with a whole range of different solutions and services to suit every type of provider.”
Jeroen Ghijsen, CEO of Metrological and VP Comcast CTS Business Affairs, noted that both the content provider and the TV operator are striving for a way to get content to the consumer. “Keeping consumers satisfied with the content they want – from live TV to premium OTT and niche apps – all behind one UI and one remote, can deliver new value to pay TV operators and content providers alike, but it’s not without challenges,” he said.
As the integration of apps is device specific, it can be a daunting task to create myriad versions of their app to run across TV operators and a dizzying array of platforms and devices. Doing so requires immense resources in terms of time and investment,” Jeroen Ghijsen
So what should content providers be thinking about as they consider how to create and monetise OTT content strategies, with a focus on the user interface?
“To expand their reach and monetise on their content, content providers should look beyond the D2C box to get their apps and OTT content into living rooms at scale. However, as the integration of apps is device specific, it can be a daunting task to create myriad versions of their app to run across TV operators and a dizzying array of platforms and devices. Doing so requires immense resources in terms of time and investment,” Ghijsen said.
To ensure the viewer stays engaged with the TV platform, Ghijsen said the pay TV operator must act as the “super aggregator” and make OTT an integrated part of their ecosystem. “But bringing OTT to TV comes with interesting integration challenges, especially when devices are old and memory constrained.”
Ghijsen added: “To do so, the operator could build an app platform themselves — though this can be a costly and resource consuming task. Operators are better suited to choose an existing app platform with back-office functions for easy onboarding, monetising, and management of the lifecycle of OTT services and apps across all set-top boxes.”
Accedo’s Le Goffic suggests that content providers, and especially smaller players who cannot rely on their brand name or exclusive catalogue, should also be looking at innovation to help them stand out from the crowd.
“Social watching is one interesting area that has proven particularly popular throughout the pandemic, but there is strong evidence to suggest it will continue to be a much-wanted feature moving forward. At the same time, it is relatively easy to implement, with a plethora of tools that make it simple and cost-effective to launch these features and instantly improve engagement,” she said.
A new reality
Looking ahead, Le Goffic expects to see many more services that include some sort of augmented reality (AR) experience.
“This is particularly relevant for fitness apps, for example, where you can work out with your virtual trainer or view your stats in an AR environment. It will also be interesting for a range of other use cases such as sports or documentaries, delivering additional information alongside the main video. AR, unlike VR, is easier to implement because it can be used in a normal companion device,” she added.
Le Goffic notes that AR experiences also lend themselves well to delivering more engaging adverts.
“We believe that the video industry can learn from how the major social media platforms have launched shoppable ad formats that enable users to make purchases from within the apps,” she said.
Indeed, the way in which TV apps are monetised is also changing. As shown by Netflix, premium subscription models work well for reaching a specific part of the market with niche content, but are less scalable for global adoption. “Most video services will need to offer a tiered approach, with some free ad-supported content, and tiered subscription offerings for different budgets,” Le Goffic said.
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