Ovum analysts relate their day-by-day highlights at this year’s TV Connect
Ted Hall, Senior Analyst, TV: A recurring theme at TV Connect centered on the challenges faced by content owners in an increasingly multiplatform TV landscape. One potential scenario outlined by Liberty Global’s SVP and Chief Strategy Officer Jim Ryan was particularly resonant: The current boom period for programmers – in which they are selling their wares to a growing number of players as the OTT market burgeons – is giving way to a bust, with cord-cutting taking hold and the fragmentation of the mass audiences attracted to linear channels hitting core advertising revenue.
One safeguard against such a scenario is likely to be a natural reduction in the number of OTT players as the market evolves – the margins in the pure-OTT business are already thin, Ryan was keen to point out, and, as content owners raise their prices as deals are renewed, smaller players find it difficult to survive.
But content owners will still need to adapt to a slow movement towards more time-shifted viewing. To do this, they must work more closely with their traditional pay-TV partners to better understand and target their audience. Time Warner Cable’s Group VP of Network Architecture Jaime Miles expects such relationships to flourish over the next two years, predicting that there will be more sharing of data between operators and content providers, which will help both parties to improve the customer experience and transform the way advertising is sold and delivered.
One such partnership has already been formed in France, a known hotbed for innovation – Orange’s VP of Data Analytics Ludovic Levy shared details of the telco’s work with commercial broadcaster TF1 for what it is calling “Measurement 3.0” (see Nick Thomas’ more detailed coverage of this initiative below).
The need to move towards targeted advertising was highlighted several times during TV Connect, with Sky Media’s Deputy MD Jamie West, in particular, putting forward a convincing case for the success that can be achieved, sharing the DTH operator’s experience of its AdSmart rollout. Notably, the service is still limited to channels that Sky sells the advertising for via its own ad-sales house – although West insisted that third-party channels would come on board soon.
Aside from Sky and handful of other players – most of them in the US – a general lack of progress across the industry as a whole on the advanced-advertising front is holding back some potentially exciting new developments. Frustratingly for operators and technology vendors, many are ready to push new cloud DVR products that have the potential to wow customers with true anytime-anywhere content services, but are being held back by content owners’ reluctant to grant the kind of rights deals that will provide relatively unrestricted – but still secure – access to their programming. Virgin Media’s Associate Director of Content Security Rob Pinniger explained that the cable operator’s plans to deploy a new product were being hampered by regulatory and rights issues.
More collaborative work between operators and content providers on dynamic ad-insertion and targeted advertising will help to ensure the necessary rights are eventually negotiated. And this kind of collaboration is on the way, many executives believe – Arris’s CTO for EMEA Cornel Ciocirlan was one to make the claim. But the pace of change has been slow to date and it may be a while longer before evolution in advertising catches up with that taking place elsewhere in the value chain.