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How operators can surmount the key IPTV challenges to meet growing consumer needs

Charles Dawes, Senior Director, International Marketing, TiVo
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IPTV is transforming how consumers view content by giving TV viewers greater control and flexibility over the entertainment they want. This rate of disruption is driven by the emergence of new consumer experiences, distribution options for content, competitors,  content sources and creators. This poses both opportunities and challenges that Pay TV operators must navigate  in the rapidly evolving IPTV landscape.

  1. Streaming services’ proliferation is transforming user standards

Over-the-top (OTT) services, such as Netflix, supply consumers with web-based content on a larger scale than ever before,  influencing their perception of innovation and raising the bar for industry players. Consumers expect Pay TV services to provide a channel guide and the ability to search for their favourite shows, as well as learn their tastes and continuously provide innovative new features and discovery options, allowing them to connect quickly to content they like. Traditional Pay TV operators need to respond to retain existing customers, minimise churn and attract new ones. The good news is that Pay TV operators are uniquely positioned to solve an increasingly chaotic entertainment experience for consumers by leveraging their strengths in live and recorded/video on demand (VOD) content availability, bringing OTT and Pay TV offerings together and upgrading to next-gen, cloud-based solutions that up the pace of innovation.

  1. Conversational voice interfaces are experiencing huge growth

Since voice interaction’s birth, the medium has expanded and voice-based services from tech giants, like Google, Amazon and Apple, have driven consumer adoption and endorsed voice-based features. These capabilities are encouraging Pay TV operators to look closely at their own voice-based interfaces and how they can be extended to consumers. If done correctly, voice offers the optimal user experience for not only command and control, but content discovery and navigation. Voice enables operators to offer a highly personalised, highly conversational interface capable of addressing complex queries. The ideal offering for operators is one that combines a deeply media-vertical content solution with the broader voice ecosystems of Google, Alexa, Siri, etc.

  1. Android TV and unmanaged devices are going mainstream

Until fairly recently, Android TV was a controversial topic among Pay TV operators, but Google has been addressing the key concerns, making Android TV a much more attractive option for operators. In addition to being able to address a wide range of devices that consumers can access content on, the OTT ecosystem available through Google Play brings together thousands of apps that operators can instantly tie into.

However, as the content grows, so does the need for a superior, differentiated and consistent user experience across all client platforms that is backed by a powerful, scalable, flexible, agile cloud service. Additionally, Google has addressed concerns around security and control with Android TV’s Operator Tier. Indeed, operators now have full control over operator experience and boot screen, as well as the ability to tie into Google Assistant and Google Play. Consequently, Android TV now offers another viable option for operators searching for ways to integrate its offerings into their overall strategy.

  1. Cable operators are starting the move to IPTV

IPTV also presents operators with new and unique opportunities and revenue streams, essential to compete in the market. However, operators wonder how they can transition from their current infrastructure to IPTV, while controlling costs and minimizing user disruption. With the right next-gen solution, operators will benefit from versatile deployment options – from QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) to hybrid to full IPTV. This will assist operators in their transition to IPTV by maintaining support for QAM deployments, while still offering a flexible migration path by addressing the capital expenditure, networking and operator rights constraints of the operator. Consequently, operators can address their most strategic concerns and quickly adapt to evolving customer needs.

  1. Dynamic features and partnerships are more pertinent

Today’s cable marketplace is hypercompetitive, therefore its vital for Pay TV operators to be more agile to capture customer attention. To stay ahead, operators need to leverage a cloud service that gives them the flexibility to anticipate market needs or consumer trends, as well as the robust ability to roll out quickly across all device platforms.

Additionally, providers should form more partnerships. Savvy operators are starting to bundle OTT services, such as Netflix, with their own offerings. In a fragmented market, there is a window for providers to guide consumers through the maze of content options. Indeed, it is no longer a deal-breaker if the operator must hand off the consumer to a partner service.

Ultimately, IPTV will become an increasingly important part of the broadcast landscape. Operators that look beyond their traditional business model and embrace emerging IPTV opportunities will be the big winners going forward.

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