Home Opinions The shift to IPTV: Operators’ top three questions answered

The shift to IPTV: Operators’ top three questions answered

Patrick Ferguson, Head of UX Sales Engineering (EMEA & APAC), TiVo
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We’re well into the streaming era – and well aware of the challenges Pay TV operators have faced in recent years, including competition from streaming, fragmented audiences and diminishing returns on legacy QAM-based video services. But today, there are more reasons than ever for operators to adopt the cloud-hosted model that gave rise to today’s complex, content-rich entertainment ecosystem.

Moving from a traditional, on-premise service to next-gen IPTV is attainable with a flexible platform and best-in-class components designed to improve subscriber retention, operational efficiency and scalability. However, operators have made a significant investment in traditional equipment – the idea of replacing on-premise hardware is daunting, and next steps aren’t necessarily clear.

In a recent interview with John Moulding, Videonet’s Editor-in-Chief, we tackle operators’ top questions regarding the switch. Below, you’ll find additional proof points to consider as you weigh your choices in the transition to IPTV.


1/ WHY
transition to a cloud-hosted service? Is it worth it?

In short – yes. There’s no question that there are costs involved in moving away from existing infrastructure. Maintaining legacy QAM systems add significant costs over time and can inhibit you from adopting the advanced functionality you need to stay competitive. Moving to IPTV, whether all at once or over time, can conceivably pay for itself.

The benefits of transitioning to IPTV:

  • Improve subscriber retention and acquisition.
    With your service hosted in the cloud, deliver the level of personalisation and universal access to content on every screen, quickly and easily. The average viewer in North America utilises approximately seven different video services1 including popular SVOD offerings. Next-generation platforms that seamlessly integrate all video sources – live TV, recordings, VOD and apps – and tap artificial intelligence (AI) can enable tailored, up-to-the-minute experiences that satisfy users.
  • Increase operational efficiency and reduce labour costs.
    In the next-gen world, video services are cloud-hosted and app-based, making installation and maintenance much simpler and, as a result, less costly. Compare traditional QAM hardware, which can be cumbersome and expensive, to a low-cost managed Android TV scenario, where little technical support is required. IPTV reduces CPE and labour costs dramatically, because operators can simply drop-ship set-top boxes (STBs) and have subscribers activate them.
  • Gain agility for future innovations and expansion.
    To future-proof your Pay TV business, you need the flexibility to quickly and easily scale services and adapt to keep up with market demand. A cloud-hosted UX environment allows for scalability that an on-premise environment will not. With IPTV, managed STBs and app-based unmanaged clients can be updated almost instantly, simultaneously.


2/ WHAT
are the essential components of a successful IPTV deployment?

The industry is shifting toward “super-aggregation” – an approach that combines essential next-gen capabilities to create the immersive, hyper-personalised, centralised experience consumers expect from IPTV. 

Key components for a super-aggregated IPTV service:

  • Universal Discovery
    92 per cent of viewers TiVo surveyed would like the ability to view, browse and search all of their available content from a single experience2. With universal discovery, which surfaces live, recorded, on-demand and streaming results with a single search, you can deliver the content-first experience viewers demand. You can achieve this by building on a flexible platform that integrates content from major OTT services (e.g., Netflix, Amazon, Hulu) and enriched entertainment metadata embedded within the experience. As a result, your highest-value linear and on-demand content plus OTT selections are populated directly into search results and recommendations. 
  • AI-Powered Personalisation
    Viewers should feel as though content is being surfaced based on their own behaviour and customised just for them. Context-based, personalised recommendations can be driven by a multitude of factors, including the time of day – for example, when a household typically turns on the news, or when their kids wake up and watch cartoons – whatever the case may be.
  • New Monetisation Strategies
    Leverage more personal and innovative advertising, marketing and pricing approaches. Beyond dynamic ad placement within the interface, there are opportunities to combine heightened personalisation with monetised content recommendations. For example, TiVo Sponsored Discovery reserves real estate in recommendations carousels to promote high-value titles – placement that content providers are eager to pay for and generates shared revenue with the operator hosting the service.
  • Conversational Search
    Truly conversational voice search, where users can literally talk with their devices to find content as if conversing with a friend, is the future of TV discovery. For example, the user might say: “What’s on TV tonight?” “Well, what about comedies?” “Comedies with Tom Hanks? “Or, what’s that movie with Tom Hanks and the volleyball?” “That’s the one.” Ensure your voice capabilities are powered by machine-learning-driven natural-language understanding (NLU) technology running on deep, multilayered metadata. With NLU, interpret everyday language, including ambiguous terms and pronouns, and allow instant tuning to shows, movies and more.


3/ HOW
can I ensure a successful, sustainable transition for my business?

It’s understandable that operators will be in completely different phases in terms of preparedness and interest in the shift to IPTV. Some are still principally delivering video over QAM and DOCSIS networks, and many are focused only on optimising second-screen experiences. Fortunately, there are options for making the transition to a cloud-hosted service, so you can determine which path makes most sense for your business.  

Getting Started

At TiVo, we’ve seen what works with our operator customers, and we’re leading in some of these technologies to bring businesses into the IPTV age. Our Next-Gen Platform for managed Android TV devices maximises value for subscribers by bringing together all the live, recorded, on-demand and streaming entertainment viewers want, in the iconic TiVo experience. We maintain strong relationships with Google, Amazon, Netflix and other global OTT providers to ensure a content-first experience.

With continuous advancements in IP video delivery and flexible, cloud-hosted platforms from providers like TiVo, operators can embrace the latest trends and return to the driver’s seat. Give subscribers a one-stop shop that spans your linear channels and on-demand catalogue as well as their favourite SVOD offerings. Reduce churn, cut costs, and transition at your pace.

Still have questions? Contact me about your shift to IPTV. 

Patrick Ferguson is the Head of UX Sales Engineering (EMEA & APAC), TiVo, now part of Xperi. Contact Patrick at getconnected.emea@tivo.com or visit business.tivo.com for more information.


Sources

1, 2: TiVo’s Video Trends Report (Q4 2020), January 2021


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