Home Analysis Swisscom explains push for nPVR, as it heads towards 50% time-shift viewing

Swisscom explains push for nPVR, as it heads towards 50% time-shift viewing

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Peter Fregelius, Swisscom, presenting at the Connected TV World Summit

Swisscom has been providing more detail on the rationale behind its move to network PVR for television viewing, which is a key part of the new Swisscom TV 2.0 service that was launched in April alongside an expansion in the number of channels and a corresponding expansion in the Replay TV (catch-up) offer. One of the main ambitions for nPVR is to overcome limits to how many simultaneous recordings you can make. With nPVR every channel is recorded in the network anyway and is therefore available in time-shift format, regardless of  whether last mile access capacity limits a home to recording two or even four streams at a time.

 â€œ80% of our customer base watches recordings from live channels and we want them to be able to record as much as possible,” Peter Fregelius, Strategy & Innovation Head at Swisscom told Connected TV Summit last week. “This was limited by bandwidth and that is one of the pain points we are solving by using nPVR.”

Fregelius told the London audience that before the launch of the TV 2.0 offering, customer surveys showed that what people liked about Swisscom TV was, “Content, content, content.” That convinced the company to expand the channel count from 200 channels to 250 (80 of them are available in HD), all of them recorded 24 hours a day and available in Replay TV/catch-up form for seven days after linear broadcast.

When it comes to personally scheduled recordings that are available from the network, customers are given 1,000 hours of storage with the basic Swisscom TV 2.0 package. You can watch the content back on any device: television via the STB, mobile phone, tablet or PC.  nPVR recordings were already available to view on the multiscreen devices so Swisscom has now achieved consistency across every screen.

“Our goal is to have one service. Customers are paying one fee per month for their service and we do not care which screen they access it from,” Fregelius declared.  

The updated service is encouraging the growth of time-shifted viewing in its various forms. Even before the launch of Swisscom TV 2.0, 30% of all viewed assets on the IPTV service were consumed in a time-shift format, a figure that includes even slight delays behind live viewing using DVR (i.e. 5 minutes behind live, following a ‘pause’). Fregelius noted that until now, there has been a higher propensity for time-shifted viewing on multiscreen devices compared to television but that is starting to change. There is an expectation that time-shifted viewing will now head towards 50% of all viewing on the IPTV service.

There are now 40-50,000 assets to choose from on Swisscom TV 2.0 every time you switch on the STB. This means there has to be a greater emphasis on programme recommendations on the updated service, which also features a new user interface that is much more ‘visual’, making more use of ‘cover art’, for example.

We reported previously how the IPTV operator is using the open source version of Android Jelly Bean OS for the new set-top box that supports Swisscom TV 2.0. The telco developed the set-top box itself. 80,000 of these devices have shipped since service launch. Swisscom is using an HTML based app store in partnership with Opera, while certain apps are developed natively on Android.

During the London conference, Fregelius was asked whether he was worried about relying on Google and the possibility that the company might draw back from the television market within a year or two. The Swisscom executive pointed out that Swisscom is not using Google TV but open source Android. “And we have built our client so that we can switch our SoC and middleware and we could go back to Linux if it ever became necessary.”

It was also noted that 20% of Swisscom’s one million IPTV customers use the operator’s mobile TV offering, which encompasses mobile phone, tablet and PC/laptop viewing. Consumers can already schedule and view personal recordings on these devices and the next step in ‘mobile’ viewing for Swisscom is to enable downloads for offline viewing.

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