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Personalised content – why does it matter?

In a world where more content is available than ever before, personalisation of the viewing experience is becoming more important, writes Erik Ramberg, head of TV platform product management, Ericsson Media Solutions.

Erik Ramberg

In a smartphone-centric world, on-demand, anytime, anywhere content has created viewing habits that have fundamentally changed the way content is consumed. While traditional linear broadcast – particularly live content – still has a role to play, millennial and post-millennial audiences access content in wide ranging and increasingly personalised ways, drawing from a range of sources such as social and online platforms.

Ericsson ConsumerLab TV and Media research shows that 54% of 16-19 year olds spend more than half their time watching on demand, an increase of almost 100% since 2010. For their part, service providers need to address the full gamut of services from cloud-DVR and on-demand, through to catch-up and time shifted TV to offer an equally compelling proposition.

Relevance and personalisation deliver value to consumers

This shifting landscape puts pressure on service providers to deliver more content via more platforms, more quickly. Legacy EPG and ‘by-category’ lists are no longer adequate to respond to these evolving viewer habits.

Yet, more does not always mean better. With the variety of programming growing across all sources, meaningful content is becoming increasingly difficult to find. Ericsson ConsumerLab TV and Media research shows consumers watch over 30 hours of media per week yet spend nearly an hour searching for something to watch every day (51 minutes). Enhanced personalisation and content discovery is therefore critical to delivering value to the consumer.

Today’s content must now be prepared across a wider range of media formats, meeting the requirements of different encoding schemas and digital rights management (DRM) frameworks. As relevance and personalization become increasingly important for consumers, service providers must also insert or pre-roll targeted advertisements. The need for speed is even more critical when it comes to getting live content into on-demand platforms. This puts added pressure on video processing systems.

Cloud underpins the agility needed for innovation

For a growing number of service providers, cloud-based solutions are the answer. They deliver both the technical media conversion capability they need and the agility to quickly scale-up to meet demand. Their focus should lie in building a network-quality service that brings together the breadth and depth of premium content with the personalization, speed, flexibility and continuous innovation of over-the-top (OTT). An end-to-end cloud solution brings significant efficiency benefits. Thanks to common infrastructure and storage, content is involved in fewer processes between ingest and delivery to on-demand hosting platforms and streaming services.

In order to address the growing need for compelling premiums services over any platform, we are seeing the rise of software-defined cloud platforms. These are enabling service providers, broadcasters and content owners to evolve their infrastructure and deliver a consistent viewer experience regardless of device or format. As service providers seek to match shifting consumer habits, the need for the flexible creation, management and delivery of video experiences is critical.

We can already see that for younger consumers, ad-free services such as Netflix are preferable to ad-funded linear services. Ericsson ConsumerLab TV and Media research shows this audience segment is willing to pay $5 to $10 to reduce or eliminate ads completely. Service providers must increasingly leverage subscriber and viewing data to better understand what viewers want and to help them deliver a more immersive – and relevant – experience. Service providers must also engage with viewers on an individual level. Through the use of actionable analytics, these service providers have unique insights to enable business decisions on content catalogs, scheduling and acquisition to create personalised offerings for different market segments.

Managing the complexity of next generation TV

The knock-on effect of delivering this type of next generation TV service is added complexity, cost and time. Service providers are turning to scalable cloud-based solutions to help them manage this in a more unified way. Cloud-native, modular solutions enable broadcasters to scale the multiple servers and applications required for multiple processes, such as storage, video streaming, OTT video streaming and transcoding.

TV service providers must now respond by integrating third party services and capturing data relating to viewer behaviour, device and platform preferences to create personalised, tailored recommendation and user experiences across live and on-demand service offerings. To achieve this, we know that existing infrastructures may require an update to support the flexible, scalable workflows that will enable new services. With the consumer now firmly in the driving seat, service providers must embrace and address this new, and often changing, reality by building agile foundations that support a more immersive and personalised viewing experiences.