The new business of broadcast, Part II - TvTechnology

The new business of broadcast, Part II

Broadcasters need new strategies to differentiate in an evolving market

Part II

In part one of this two-part series, we examined the rapidly changing landscape for video eyeballs. While broadcasters used to own the space, they increasingly must share viewers with new players and services.

In part two, we’ll examine some of the competing platforms and suggest how broadcasters can leverage technology to retain and even gain viewership and revenue.

Multi-screen live streaming and catch-up services: These may be accessed by pay-tv subscribers or on a pay per view/online subscription/rental basis by non-subscribers on Smart TVs/Mobile/PCs/Game consoles.

For instance, the BBC offers “10 products, 4 screens, 1 service”, a strategy that promises the same BBC experience on all the screens. The user interface for these services is a key factor for a seamless user experience across screens.

Premium offerings, unbundled: Broadcasters can premiere shows on linear TV and continue them on online media after the first season. The potential of this model can be seen in the way the series Arrested Development was received enthusiastically by the audience, after being brought back by Netflix. The company offered exclusive online content with a provision for binge watching (all episodes at once) and an ad-free option for a premium. A similar model well might serve a broadcaster’s online presence.

Channels or Networks on video sharing sites (like YouTube): YouTube partnered with celebrities and media entities for its original channel initiative launched in 2011. Partners included BBC International and CNN. The recently launched subscription model was a natural progression because the benefits are obvious. The content will be able to reach audiences worldwide. which means having an unprecedented scale without significant additional investment. Also, a greater share of consumer’s fee will go to the broadcaster (more than 50%, according to YouTube). Similar benefits could apply to advertising as well.

Strategy #2: Content

Content is familiar territory to broadcasters. With in-house production expertise and years of experience in commissioning and running successful shows, producing content is one of broadcasters’ strength. So how can this strength be maximized in today’s digital landscape?

Big data is a big help: Insights into consumer behavior can be gained using big data analytics. For example the typical viewership for mobile devices is in the 18-35 demographic, whereas senior viewers prefer the linear medium. Also, mobile viewers tend to be interested in shorter content than the viewers on PCs or TVs.The Discovery network had the precise demographic of their viewers in mind when they launched the “Discovery TestTube” as a YouTube channel. Netflix commissioned House of Cards after doing a deep dive into the big data of their audience. Knowing the preferences of viewers and tailoring the content accordingly is definitely going to boost the chances of a show’s success.

Telling connected stories: With the availability of diverse media for content distribution, comes the opportunity of developing content that is ’transmedia’. The Syfy Network (owned by NBC Universal) has explored this creative opportunity with its ‘Defiance’ project. The story evolves concurrently as a multiplayer online gaming experience and as an episodic series. Both the TV and gaming experience can be standalone. However, together they offer an unprecedented experience of the gaming experience intertwined with the storyline of the series.

Integrating content and advertising with social features:Broadcasters can make it easier for viewers to share and like their content by integrating social apps like Facebook and Twitter in their broadcast shows, websites and applications. Social recommendation is another powerful feature which can increase a shows’ popularity. The recommendations can be made both offline and in real time. The number of ‘likes’ a show receives from online as well as other media can be used to calculate its ranking.

Real-time recommendations may include the indication that a viewer’s friends are watching right now or info on shows from the broadcaster that is currently trending with people in the viewer’s area. The viewing history can be used to create a social profile which can be used to cross-sell on demand or with other programming. In others words it would-be similar to telling the viewer "friends who watched this have also watched aaa /are watching bbb/ recording ccc". An interesting way to use it would be to show this information on channel banners, or sent as push messages to subscribers on mobile devices nudging them to tune in.

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Strategy #3 : Companion Applications :Companion applications are used on second screens and enhance the viewer experience while generating additional revenue. These apps can be broadly classified into three categories:

Channel or Network focused: This caters to the augment viewing experience of the broadcast channel or network. For example an app that gives you a detailed program guide of the channel or network with the ability to record shows or buy programs which can be later watched on any screen. Live streaming, teasers of upcoming shows, trivia about current shows, feeds from the channels’ micro blogging( like twitter) hash tag and social network page are other features that can be offered.

Program Focused: These apps are an avenue for viewers to engage with a program beyond its scheduled slot.

Videos and trivia about the show and cast, merchandise and memorabilia can be promoted. Instant polls, real time contests and games inspired by the show are other ways in which the viewer can be engaged.

Ad focused: These apps provide an extended advertising experience. Details and instant purchase options are offered to viewers. These apps sync with live TV advertisements by audio recognition techniques like watermarking and fingerprinting or image recognition.

For example, an app that uses audio recognition might identity a sound sample on TV as an ad and present details for instant purchase offers. A visual recognition based app might be integrated with a show so that if the viewer clicks a picture of a scene from the show, it would be able to identify the characters, the location, and props in that scene and then present offers for the same. For example, the app might offer a link to IMDb (Internet Movie Data Base) or video link to the actress and a listing of what she is wearing, along with an offer to purchase similar items. Or, if the location is outdoors, the app might display information/offers from hotels and airlines to visit the same location.

Conclusion.

The television industry is in a flux today with the very definition of TV being revamped. Video is being consumed in huge chunks across the world on a plethora of devices. To remain profitable and relevant in a rapidly fragmenting market, broadcasters need to up the ante and make sure that they cater only to their loyal “cord-clingers” in innovative ways, but also to the new breed of “cord-cutters” and “cord-nevers”. The strategies discussed in this article are some first steps in that direction.