Com Hem, the Swedish broadband and Pay TV provider, won the top international prize at this year’s Connies awards for its Com Hem Tv Hub, the next-generation STB-based platform that elegantly fuses popular streaming services and Pay TV operator content within a modern UI. Com Hem Tv Hub is one of the first TV products in the world to harness Android TV Operator Tier – the version of Android TV that gives operators great control over the user experience with a custom-developed ‘launcher’. It includes Google Cast, Google Play Store and Google Assistant (enabling voice interaction).
Com Hem won the ‘Best User Experience’ category and then the International Grand Prix that is contested between the international category winners. Awards judge Steven Hawley, Principal Analyst and Consultant at tvstrategies, described Com Hem Tv Hub as “a great example of an Android TV Operator Tier implementation done well”, while judge Benjamin Schwarz, Consultant at CToic Consulting, added: “Com Hem has set the bar high, finding a difficult compromise between simplicity and the power of the UI.”
Com Hem beat off competition from KT (Korea Telecom) with its Voice UI system for KT Olleh TV and OnePlace from Canal Digital, supported by 3SS, to win the Best User Experience prize. Canal Digital/3SS were Highly Commended in this category by the judges.
Amazon Channels won the Premium TV Award. This provides a collection of streaming/OTT services in one place with an umbrella user experience, unified content discovery and subscription fees taken care of via common billing. Amazon Channels is credited with making it easier for consumers to ‘stack’ multiple SVOD/D2C (direct-to-consumer) services at a time when this behaviour has become commonplace, while it is also an important digital distribution option for content owners.
The judges felt this service represents a new type of content aggregator. Connies judge William Cooper, Founder and Chief Executive at informitv, says: “This service represents a benefit to programming providers and a convenience for viewers. Amazon has significant scale and reach, making it a credible contender in a strongly contested market.”
BBC R&D received the Silver Award in this category for its UHD HDR live streaming public pilot during the summer 2018 World Cup football finals and Wimbledon tennis tournament. Sling TV took the Bronze award, having trail-blazed the concept of the virtual Pay TV operator.
Sling TV gives consumers the option to access premium TV content from some of the best-known brands, aggregated and available in one place, without the long-term subscription commitments of traditional Pay TV. Consumers also have more flexibility when selecting content.
IBM Aspera was named this year’s Video Technology Hero for its IBM Aspera on Cloud, which overcomes the challenges associated with file exchange across increasingly hybrid workflows that use a combination of public cloud, private cloud and on-premises storage and compute resources. This solution is used by major film studios, post-production companies and broadcasters.
David Price, Principal at Scala Advisors and one of the Connies judges on the international categories, says: “Ever since the migration from physical media, the way that video content is distributed securely, reliably and quickly around the world has been a key part of that transition. IBM Aspera has brought scale to this key function.”
Verimatrix took the Silver award in this category with its StreamMark Server-side Watermarking for Premium OTT Video, and Harmonic received Bronze for its end-to-end UHD HDR solution for live sports streaming.
In the ‘Excellence in Analytics & AI’ category, Synamedia was awarded first prize for its Synamedia Credentials Sharing Insight, which uses AI, behavioural analytics and machine learning to help streaming video providers combat the rise in casual account sharing and turn it into a revenue-generating opportunity. This solution can also be used to detect and shut down large-scale sharing fraud.
“Synamedia is bringing to bear AI techniques to allow operators to identify password sharers and to offer different approaches to dealing with them,” notes Connies judge Ian Nock, Managing Director and Founder at Fairmile West. “We felt this was just the sort of solution needed today, and it rightly earned our votes as the winner of this category.”
The Connies are organised by Mediatel and are the most comprehensive awards covering the full media ecosystem. They showcase innovation and best practice across a range of functions from media research and media planning to publishing and distribution. They also seek key technology developments to support the media industry. The winners were announced during an awards lunch at The Banking Hall in central London on Wednesday.
We have profiled all the shortlisted entries from the categories mentioned above, if you want to see whether you agree with the judges. Check that out here.
Channel 4 was a big winner this year. The broadcaster was named Connected Media Owner of the Year for its success story as a truly connected media owner. “Working with connectivity at its heart, Channel 4 has demonstrated how this has made things better for viewers, better for clients and better for Channel 4’s overall business success,” said judge Anne Tucker, Head of Research & AV at Mediatel.
Channel 4 also won the ‘Best Use of Connected Data’ category for ‘Contextual Moments’, which finds scenes in programming that matches the sentiment and messages within advertising. This solution was acknowledged for automating what has historically been a manual and intuitive task.
In the ‘Best Research Project/Initiative’, Thinkbox took Bronze for a project in which it gave camera glasses to members of the public to show how people are using video across multiple screens. The Silver prize went to Newsworks for its work demonstrating the incremental benefit of advertising placed in quality online environments. The Gold winner was PAMCo – applauded for its delivery of a world-first, cross media measurement system for publishers.
Awards judge Richard Marks, Director at Research the Media said: “The successful launch of PAMCo was the end product of an ambitious desire to reboot the newsbrand and magazine currency as a truly platform neutral measure of readership in a connected world. The new survey skilfully balances the need for innovation, whilst preserving the credibility and authority of a currency used to trade billions of pounds of advertising.”
In the ‘Best Use of Connected Technology’ category, the judges awarded the prize to 3SS for its New 3Ready Assistant with Cloud-2-Cloud Integration. This demonstrated innovative use of voice commands in a multiscreen user interface and was held up by judges as an excellent example of how connected technology can deliver a seamless, engaging user experience across broadcast, VOD and OTT services.
Meanwhile, Posterscope was named ‘Connected Agency of the Year’. Global won the ‘Connected Campaign of the Year’ award for The Media and Entertainment Group – Department for Education, “Get Into Teaching”.
Don’t forget that you can see a profile of every shortlisted entry in the international categories here.
And here is the full list of the shortlisted companies and everyone who received a prize at the Connies 2019…
International Grand Prix (selected from the international category winners)
Com Hem – Com Hem Tv Hub
Video Technology Hero
Gold (winner) – IBM Aspera – IBM Aspera on Cloud
Silver – Verimatrix – StreamMark Server-side Watermarking for Premium OTT Video
Bronze – Harmonic – End-to-end UHD HDR Solution for Live Sports Streaming
Also shortlisted: Avid – Avid MediaCentral
The ‘Premium TV’ Award
Gold (winner) – Amazon Channels
Silver – BBC R&D, UHD HDR
Bronze– Sling TV
Also shortlisted: Discovery Winter Olympics; Amazon as a vertical media company.
Excellence in Analytics & AI for TV and video
Winner –Synamedia – Synamedia Credentials Sharing Insight
Also shortlisted: ThinkAnalytics – Personalised recommendations across BBC iPlayer and BBC Sounds; NAGRA – NAGRA Insight; SoftAtHome – AI Addressable TV.
Best User Experience
Winner – Com Hem – Com Hem Tv Hub
Highly Commended – OnePlace from Canal Digital, supported by 3SS
Also shortlisted: KT (Korea Telecom) – Voice UI System for KT Olleh TV.
Best Research Project/Initiative
Gold (winner) – PAMCo Ltd – PAMCo Audience Measurement for Publishers: The new Joint Industry Currency for Published Media
Silver –Newsworks – The Value of Quality
Bronze – Thinkbox – The Age of Television
Also shortlisted: Inskin – Amplify: Planning for Attention; Kinetic – The more you see it, the more you like it.
Best Use of Connected Data
Winner – Channel 4 – Contextual Moments
Also shortlisted: Spotify – NCS: Unstoppable Me (National Citizen Service); Manning Gottlieb OMD – Creating a custom algorithm for Clinique – Moisture Surge; Sky & Tesco Finest – Delicious nights in with Sky On Demand.
Best Use of Connected Technology
Winner – 3SS – New 3Ready Assistant with Cloud-2-Cloud Integration
Also shortlisted: ADYOULIKE – Native Advertising Technology Platform; Accedo – Generating artwork using AI with AWS and ITV.
Connected Campaign of the Year
Winner – Global, The Media and Entertainment Group – Department for Education, “Get Into Teaching”
Highly Commended – Grey LDN, WPP & Facebook – UN: The People’s Seat
Also shortlisted: Facebook – EE’s Real-time red carpet on Instagram; Sky & Differentology – Emotionally connecting SkyBet with audiences through the power of Social Branded Content.
Connected Agency of the Year
Winner – Posterscope
Also shortlisted: Manning Gottlieb OMD; Total Media.
Connected Media Owner of the Year
Winner – Channel 4
Also shortlisted: Spotify
UK Grand Prix (selected from the UK category winners)
Mediatel CEO, Derek Jones, says of the Connies 2019: “The level of creativity and innovation was truly remarkable. The work on display acts as a barometer for the health of the connected ecosystem, and we’re proud to reward it with these unique awards. My sincere gratitude goes to everyone for taking part, and I look forward to seeing more great work next year.”
The Connies 2019 judges were:
Chair of judges
Mark Cross, Director, Chartroom
International category judges
- William Cooper, Founder and Chief Executive, informitv
- Steven Hawley, Principal Analyst and Consultant, tvstrategies
- Ian Nock, Managing Director and Founder, Fairmile West
- Benjamin Schwarz, Consultant, CToic Consulting
- David Price Principal, Scala Advisors
- John Moulding, Editor-in-Chief, Videonet.
All other categories
- Mark Cross, Director, Chartroom
- Richard Marks, Director, Research the Media
- Stacey Anklam, COO, autograph
- Anne Tucker, Head of Research and AV, Mediatel
- Tracey Follows, Founder, Futuremade.
- Zehra Chatoo, Head of Strategy Development, Manning Gottlieb OMD
- Rob Ellison, Senior Comms Planning Manager UK&I, Unilever.