Home Opinions The Pay TV industry must consider the ethics of data

The Pay TV industry must consider the ethics of data

Jacques-Edouard Guillemot, SVP Executive Affairs, NAGRA
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Data can revolutionise the entire Pay TV industry.

And while, so far, this industry has been slow to adapt to our increasingly data-driven world, its sizeable subscriber footprint puts it in an ideal position. It has the opportunity to offer a great personalised service to customers.

Let’s take a minute to look at how digital disruptors such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Netflix (GAFAN for short) have fared; much of their success has hinged on their effective gathering and use of data. In fact, much of GAFAN’s business-making processes are completely built around data. As a result, their users are glued to their apps on a daily basis.

But across these various industries – from transport and entertainment to social networking and distribution – greater data capability means greater responsibility, and certain organisations haven’t always acted responsibly.

Recent reports about Amazon’s Alexa, data leaks at LinkedIn, not to mention the ongoing issues with Facebook have done nothing to allay consumer anxiety, and much faith has been lost toward these organisations.

And as such, authorities have been eager to regulate; Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal could wind up costing it $5bn. Meanwhile, as a measure of wrestling back control of people’s data, and by extension, their privacy, other bodies have moved to implement regulation – most prominent, and perhaps set to become the most influential on future regulation, is the EU’s GDPR.

It seems that the issue of data has so far proved a double-edged sword for many; it has the power to improve the quality of the service rendered to the end user, but abuses can kill years of effort.

So what can the Pay TV industry learn from this? Is it possible to take the data journey, or is there a significant danger of falling into the same trap?

Well, there is an opportunity for Pay TV operators to learn from the mistakes of predecessors, helping consumers to understand and reap the benefits that being part of a data-sharing community can provide.

But the most important thing for the Pay TV industry to learn is that trust in the system is mandatory to ensure its sustainability. Subscribers must understand exactly how, when, where and why their data is being used. Perhaps happily, the EU’s GDPR means that operators are already working with this in mind.

What’s more, there’s reason to think that – in certain markets at least – Pay TV is already enjoying consumers’ trust when it comes to data; speaking about personalisation of TV services at the TV Connect event last year, BT Sport’s Director of Mobile Strategy, Matt Stagg, said people trusted TV providers to handle personal data “a lot more than they do other mediums.”

He attributed this to trust in public broadcasting. He even said he expected TV platforms to “secure the highest amount of engagement post-GDPR”. Whether or not this proves to be true remains to be seen.

When it comes to data, the Pay TV industry should prefer quality over quantity: it’s better to have a small number of quality data points than reams of garbage data. Overflowing data lakes are the greatest enemy of smart-minded data use.

The industry should also adopt a standard that ensures their different systems can contribute to the overall data effort. Data needs to be connected holistically in order to deliver a superior quality of experience for Pay TV.

If the Pay TV players work together to find a common, responsible approach to data, they could enjoy some amazing benefits – greater flexibility in the business models of content, monetization and subscription.

With more challenging times ahead, the ones who succeed will be those in the Pay TV industry bold enough to adapt to and grow with the expanding data economy, while repaying and reaffirming subscriber trust.


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