Home Analysis True personalization is the next big thing in multiscreen TV

True personalization is the next big thing in multiscreen TV

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For many platform operators, multiscreen TV is deployed and it is achieving what they hoped it would: consumers like it, there is evidence that they appreciate the additional value from their subscriptions, and it is helping to engage the younger demographic. The threat of cord cutting has diminished and TV Everywhere services are one of the main reasons. So now attention is turning to how we evolve multiscreen TV and according to Tvinci, the next stage is to make multiscreen truly personal and use that personalization to monetize the services better.

The company has coined the phrase ‘OTT.I.am’ and is using IBC2013 to explain what real personalization means in the multiscreen environment. To start with, Tvinci points out that what we think of as personal devices are actually shared a lot of the time. “Each device could be used by any number of people in the household. Whilst a smartphone may have just one primary user, a tablet could have three and the PC or connected TV could have four or more primary users,” Ido Wiesenberg, VP Business Development & Co-Founder at Tvinci, explains.

This is an important point because there is often an assumption that multiscreen devices are inherently personal. They are in the sense that one person uses them at a time, but they are not necessarily unique to one user. There is growing evidence that parents share their tablets with small children so they can watch TV, for example.

So one of the first things we need is an understanding of who is actually using the device, after which the Pay TV operator can start to give them their own personalized experience. For consumers, apparently simple improvements can have a big impact, like giving recommendations on what you watched personally rather than what everyone else in the house has been watching, and lining up the next episode of the show you have been watching based on where you are in the series – not where somebody else has reached.

Netflix is moving towards individual user accounts within a household and this service has shown previously that it can raise consumer expectations when it comes to multiscreen viewing. Tvinci predicted this and believes it is a significant development. The company is confident it can help Pay TV operators to introduce levels of personalization to their multiscreen offer that will make the services much more enjoyable but also pave the way to new revenues.

“I want my TV service, on-demand and OTT, to reflect my history, my habits, my preferences and my friends,” says Wiesenberg. This starts with individual log-ins on any device to provide viewing history, preferences and favourites for individual users, regardless of what device they are logged into. Then the service provider can send notifications to that individual user, like when a new episode of their favourite show has been added to the service.

When the service you see is personalized to you, users can really start to harness social media. Tvinci wants to see “subtle and relevant integration with social networks” so users can discover content based on friend activities, which could mean a social EPG with social buzz to indicate what programmes are hot right now (but based only on your friends). This can range from “50% of your friends are watching X” to “60% of the people in your office/university/town are watching X”, Tvinci explains. Each user can receive a news feed that lists friend activity on the service – what they are watching, commenting on and ‘liking’.

Tvinci provides a highly regarded platform for Pay TV OTT services, covering a management system, a User Experience Management system and client-side requirements and this platform includes multi-tenancy capabilities, making it straightforward to manage individual users within a household. With this solution the consumer can select an account master (e.g. Mum or Dad) and they can open sub-accounts for other users in the home. You can allocate individual VOD budgets for each person, as well as define who can access which devices. A subscription package can be made available to all members of the household.

Individual VOD budgets are intriguing and could be the first clue towards how more personalization can lead to more monetization. It is easy to imagine how, in a much more personalized setting, teenagers might be willing to add their own pocket money to increase their VOD budget if they hit their limit.

Tvinci believes service providers can definitely monetize more effectively in a more personalized multiscreen scenario. “You can monetize the number of devices per account and the number of users per household, and you can also monetize the number of concurrent streams permitted,” the company suggests. There is already evidence of this at work: in the UK BSkyB now offers a premium version of its free (to subscribers) Sky Go multiscreen offer where for £5 per month you can use four devices instead of two and also enable ‘download-to-go’.

Tvinci points to the compelling way that a personalized multiscreen profile can be combined with the kind of follow-me features that operators have long been aiming for. So a user can log in and start to watch content on one device, stop watching and continue where they left off on a different device and not have to concern themselves with anything that other people have been watching on the second device.

Wiesenberg demonstrates a companion experience whereby anyone who is logged in and watching content on their personal device can move both their profile and their content onto a television by ‘swooshing’ their fingers to the top of the screen (the classic swipe gesture). This also means that where a log-in is needed, you can log-in on the device best designed for it (i.e. one with a keyboard) and then decide which device you want to use for consumption.

Tvinci believes a truly personalized service is the Holy Grail for multiscreen. Wiesenberg echoes what is now accepted wisdom: cord cutting is no longer a significant threat to Pay TV providers who have seized OTT technologies and added multi-screen solutions to their offer. But there is no time for self-congratulations. Consumers are already demanding more than just content on the different screens or even a reliable and slick user interface: they want to stand out from the rest of the family.

Without putting it too bluntly, teenager Dave wants to ditch his kid brother Jonny and all that comes with him when it comes to his multiscreen viewing and the recommendations that go with it, and get stuck into his own favourites and his own social network — and the less Jonny gets to see of that the better.  Tvinci believes the consumer desire to be treated as individuals can be turned into a Pay TV operator opportunity.

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