In an increasingly crowded marketplace broadcasters and OTT platforms must work harder than ever before to reach audiences and serve them with content anywhere and at any time.

In the current landscape, optimisation techniques and the risks posed by poor personalisation are pressing concerns, according to Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) Head of Distribution Bjarne Andre Myklebust.

SKAM source NRK 3x2

“Innovative and creative”: NRK’s Skam

Myklebust explained that the impact of personalisation is so important because of the variety of offerings, and that audiences won’t find interesting content if the process of content discovery isn’t optimised.

Speaking to IBC365 he said: “We have 130,000 programme titles at NRK and we’ve found that good algorithms create a personalised service for our viewers to navigate the wide range of content.

“The content discovery is based on the end users preferences, which can be interesting or surprising.”

The competition coming from Netflix and Amazon is tough, and younger audiences are the most difficult to reach, he explained.

He said: “We have to be creative and deliver just as good personalisation as the international players.

“We are trying to catch the declining linear audiences and redirect them to our OTT services.”

Traditional broadcasters are fighting an up-hill battle against the growing competition. NRK is wisely preparing to move into 4K content particularly for sport and drama series.

Whilst traditional linear TV viewing is declining, audiences are watching more ‘TV’ than ever before, just across different platforms.

“Knowing your viewers, who they are and how you can reach them is complicated but the engagement value is where you can succeed,” Myklebust continued.

“The combination of platforms and technologies to engage with viewers is very important; you need to understand what kind of platform and service your audience are using.”

NRK’s current priorities include the production of more high quality content and drama at lower costs to remain competitive and especially to tap into great content to younger audiences, Myklebust said.

Methods of engagement
From a technical perspective NRK is pushing online distribution and moving to 4K, especially for drama series and sport.

He said: “[NRK has] one foot in the traditional linear TV while also pursuing the OTT space.

“Some 80% of audiences are watching traditional media, they’re declining but it will be a big part of the future.”

“We have to be as good as the technology…more traditional broadcasters are taking on new technology job functions which helps to be competitive.”

“We can be more relevant, working with more engagement with audiences and the interaction on second screens.

NRK teen drama series Skam is a web-based programme about the daily life of teenagers. Myklebust explained Skam proved to be an innovative and creative concept, it successfully engaged with the right demographic.

Skam: Focuses on teen issues including friendship, religion and sexuality

Skam: Focuses on teen issues including friendship, religion and sexuality

Source: NRK

Skam used a range of platforms to engage. Twitter, Instagram and traditional advertising, which allowed audiences to relate and interact with the programme.

Myklebust said: “It is important to understand what kind of platforms and services within the age group you’re targeting. Personalisation can be complicated but if you succeed you get more attention and are ahead of the other players.”

During a panel session at TV Connect in London, Axonista Chief Executive Claire McHugh explained that personalisation requires many considerations including who the audience is, what device is being used and where they are watching. All of this must be stitched together for a personalised experience, and that is key for longevity for broadcasters.

“All about the viewer”: Clare McHugh

She said: “Audiences are willing to trade their data for something very good or useful but they’re not willing to do it if it’s annoying or useless.”

“The most exciting thing with personalisation is using voice,” McHugh said. “The tools and technology is in place, getting to that level of personalisation is all about the viewer.”

Sky Head of Sky Adsmart Dan Stephenson added that personalisation has proven benefits for content discovery and user interaction and engagement.

“Understand the value”: Dan Stephenson

He said: “Audiences needs to understand the value and give their viewing data to inform their viewing experience.

“We can directly see the impact of personalisation and tailored communications, addressable ads reduce the tune away risk. There is a duality there with more engaged audiences and better experiences.”

Perfecting personalisation
Vewd Chief Executive Aneesh Rajaram joined panellists during TV Connect and discussed “the hyper connected experiences” which mean customisation can happen at the platform level, predicting it is where traditional TV platforms will move towards.

“Hyper connected experiences”: Aneesh Rajaram

BBC Research and Development partnered with Vewd (formerly Opera TV) to showcase during IBC2017 its prototype to customise and personalise broadcast TV using IP-delivered content. The demonstration showed the real-time synchronisation of phones and tablets alongside TV viewing experiences.

Rajaram said: “TV has not yet caught up to the personalisation opportunities explored by the OTT players.”

Panellists agreed that data analytics and audience insight will become currency in the future.

Rajaram predicted new business models could be on the horizon once the end-user sees the benefit of exchanging data for network access. He gave the example of watching 10 ads in exchange for one month of Netflix.