The iPad – TV’s best friend

No other device has disrupted the way we watch TV as the tablet, or more accurately, the iPad has, says Christopher Schouten, senior marketing director, online, Irdeto. Threatening to be the ultimate cord-cutter catalyst, the iPad is now proving to be the ideal companion device to our beloved TV. 

No other device has disrupted the way we watch TV as the tablet, or more accurately, the iPad has. Threatening to be the ultimate cord-cutter catalyst, the iPad is now proving to be the ideal companion device to our beloved TV.

With the growth of the tablet market as a whole forecast to reach 253 million in the next five years to 2016, pay TV operators must take the opportunity to embrace the ongoing change in the way we watch TV.

From broadcaster to broadbander

Gary Schultz, president and principle analyst at MRG, concurs that the iPad will greatly influence the business of pay TV operators. The iPad is often one of the first platforms that operators will chose to extend their brand to beyond the PC. Schultz also believes that TV Everywhere services will next year extend outside of the home, powered by the roll out of 3G and 4G services and facilitated with the growth of mobile devices including the highly popular iPad.

Clever pay TV operators such as Sky Deutschland are already succeeding in extending their relationship with consumers across such platforms.

New Subscribers, New Business Models

Watching video via an app is becoming as common as tuning into your favourite sports channel. For example, Sky Deutschland’s Sport application for the iPad offers subscribers a flexible TV viewing experience, providing a variety of content in one place with quick and easy access to live streaming of Sky’s exclusive sport channels. The subscriber-only app also allows consumers to access video clips as well as relevant sports results and statistics.

In a similar vein, Comcast now delivers premium on-demand content from many of its most popular channels to its Xfinity TV iPad app. The application allows consumers to navigate programme guides and watch videos from subscription channels.

By extending their brand to these mobile platforms, operators are ensuring consumers have access to a wider variety of premium content. The impact on the consumer viewing market has been immediate; apps have enabled consumers to enjoy and discover content in a way they never have before. Research published by app developer Imano, shows that in the UK the most popular source of video on iPad is YouTube (87%), closely followed by catch-up TV (74%). In the US, mobile video viewing continues to grow, increasing 41% over last year and more than 100% since 2009. Such findings illustrate that the iPad is proving to be an excellent mobile platform for over-the-top (OTT) providers to deliver video, and consumers have enthusiastically embraced the device. Aggregators such as Lovefilm and Netflix have changed the way that consumers watch TV by offering compelling media applications to devices like the iPad. In terms of the iPad as a companion device, recent research by Nielson has found that 40% of tablet and smartphone owners use them while watching TV as a way to enhance their TV viewing experience

More content, more devices, more complexity

To offer the consumer an enhanced experience, operators must ensure that content can be accessed in a flexible manner. To achieve this, they must overcome complex delivery challenges, especially if they are offering multiple services, across multiple devices such as the iPad.

Optimising content for each application is a challenge in itself. However, making sure they are consistently kept updated with new content and services is quite another. Operators should implement a dynamic and secure broadband solution that enables them to control monetise and distribute content via an Internet connection.

Such a solution should optimise workflows and be able to scale effortlessly to demand peaks for rapidly breaking news or live football games. This dynamic broadband solution should also be flexible enough to support multiple business models and billing platforms and provide a simple solution to complex syndication needs.

Operators must also ensure they choose a solution that facilitates an adequate customer care and reporting functionality for operators to bill back to advertisers and pay third party content providers. Finally, any good broadband solution must enable operators to add new devices and operating systems to their content management systems as required.

Addressing piracy

According to independent retail analyst Verdict Research, piracy levels are rising. The same report predicts that this will continue to impact on the home entertainment market and slow its recovery. Therefore, protecting content across multiple devices, including the iPad is still a very real challenge in the broadcast market.

Operators are realising that the static nature of DRM means that content is vulnerable to attack when delivered across connected mobile devices. There is a need to implement a renewable dynamic security solution that hackers find hard to circumvent to prevent piracy. A dynamic security solution will protect content on any device, anytime.

Future trends

Pay TV operators now have the opportunity to embrace the ongoing change in the way we watch TV.  They, along with vendors of enabling solutions, carry equal responsibility in ensuring the success of TV Everywhere. To do this, they must meet the growing expectations from customers and content companies to connect on any device, anywhere at any time.