Home Analysis Pay TV at an inflection point: the need for unification and a...

Pay TV at an inflection point: the need for unification and a new cost base

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Pay TV operators have harnessed diverse delivery infrastructure to deliver services, whether it is satellite, cable, IPTV, DTT or CDNs, but it is now time to find ways to remove the siloes and the fragmentation of operations, user experience and marketing that goes with them, and build a more unified proposition. In a recent Videonet webcast, Nick Thexton, Chief Technology Officer at Synamedia, argued that this is now a business imperative, as it underpins not just reduced costs and improved agility but the ability of Pay TV operators to maintain their position as aggregators of the best content, providing the easy content discovery consumers need and the ability to find content when and where you want it.

Thexton believes the fragmentation between streaming services and the broadcast and on-demand content found on Pay TV needs to come to an end, as well, with seamless blending that benefits consumers and also SVOD and direct-to-consumer services who he believes, “have quite a hard job trying to emulate some of the features of Pay TV platforms”. This service blending is what Synamedia refers to when talking about ‘The New Pay TV Bundle’.

When it comes to delivering the next-generation Pay TV user experience and indeed, the future Pay TV business model, it is essential to migrate TV platform processes and features to the cloud, Synamedia believes. Thexton refers to the use of software in the cloud as the nexus in the new operations model and emphasises: “The big transformation behind the scenes is the removal of the various distribution siloes that exist.”

Talking about the use of a unified television platform built on cloud native technologies, and specifically the combination of Synamedia’s Infinite Platform with AWS services, he said, “Things [cloud-driven agility and costs] that were considered disruptive [because they helped born-digital competitors to Pay TV] are now available to operators in exactly the same way.”

The webcast takes a close look at the benefits of combining Infinite Platform with the AWS cloud as the foundation for the ‘New Pay TV Bundle’ and what both companies claim is a new and lower cost base that rewrites the economics of Pay TV.

Morsy Cheikhrouhou, Business Portfolio Leader – Telecom Media Distribution Solutions at AWS, pointed to the avoidance of upfront CapEx and then variable ongoing costs as key benefits of using the AWS cloud. He highlighted the trend towards lower subscription [length] commitments and lower priced content offers in the TV market, and the pressure on Pay TV operators to decrease costs as well as optimise revenues. “It is really important for them to get rid of the heavy lifting [operations] that weighs down the television workload, and start embracing the cloud,” he declared.

“Our customers use infrastructure as they require it, and that comes at a lower cost than they can achieve if they provide it themselves, thanks to AWS economies of scale and elasticity.”

Three customer case studies were provided to highlight the proven benefits of Synamedia’s Infinite Platform when deployed on the AWS cloud, starting with Astro, the Malaysian Pay TV operator that started life as a DTH provider but has since added broadband-delivered Pay TV for new dwellings with sufficient connectivity, resulting in greater reach but the kind of fragmentation that Nick Thexton wants to consign to history.

The integration of Infinite Platform and the AWS cloud covers the control plane and metadata and has enabled a more unified service and UX that includes, among other things, the delivery of ABR streamed content to existing satellite set-top boxes, and the introduction of (cloud) DVR to multiscreen TV. One benefit of ABR delivery to satellite boxes is uninterrupted television service during monsoons (which otherwise cause rain-fade).

Astro is currently migrating Infinite Platform to Amazon EKS, a managed Kubernetes service that provides a control plane that runs across multiple availability zones for high-availability and redundancy. “Due to the efficient, dynamic scaling within the EKS, you can optimise the cost of the solution,” explained Simon Rice, Enterprise Solutions Architect at AWS.

He also pointed to the potential for cost reductions in data management using the combined Synamedia/AWS solutions. “The core of any Pay TV platform, traditionally, was an expensive clustered commercial-grade database, but on AWS there is a wide variety of native cloud database services so you can use the right tool for the right job, including Amazon Aurora, a fully managed MySQL and Postgres compatible service with the same security and durability of a commercial-grade database, but which is available for around one-tenth of the cost.”

VOD and CDN capabilities are also carried on the AWS cloud at Astro. Cheikhrouhou comments:Siloes have been integrated into a single platform. The customer has reduced operational costs and also offers an outstanding and continuous UX across all devices and networks.”

Astro makes use of data collection and analytics, and provide a multi-app environment and unified search, among other things. Thexton points out, “They have managed to evolve their platform without having to throw everything away.”

This webcast, which you can listen to on-demand here (free), also looks at how the combination of Synamedia’s Infinite Platform and AWS has benefited two other joint customers:

  • Vodafone in Germany, which provides a good example of how you can combine different delivery infrastructure on a single platform and also deliver a blended broadcast plus OTT experience.
  • E-Vision, the Etisalat subsidiary and content aggregator operating in UAE, Egypt and some other territories that has developed a multi-operational company, offering a multi-country, multi-tenant OTT service to help other media companies run their own multiscreen offers.

On this webcast, you will also hear:

  • More detail about the capabilities of Synamedia’s Infinite Platform and AWS cloud services.
  • More about the transformative synergies that are possible when you combine these two solutions.
  • A specific look at how advanced advertising is deployed and the provision for advanced analytics and revenue protection.
  • The lessons Synamedia and AWS have taken from the coronavirus lockdowns relating to TV operations and consumer behaviour.
  • How a unified cloud TV platform can help with post-lockdown challenges – including a possible recession – and opportunities.

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