Q&A: Accedo’s Martin Sebelius on OTT video managed services

Martin Sebelius, CEO, Accedo Video Solutions, talks to DTVE about why the time is right for managed services offerings serving the streaming video market.

Martin Sebelius

Martin Sebelius

What pressures and concerns are driving content service providers towards a managed services offering, and do companies heading in this direction share some characteristics?

Service providers are facing changed macro-economic circumstances and increased pressure to achieve profitability. This makes them more eager to go down the managed services route and ask someone to run their TV service for them.

I think a range of potential customers will be attracted to a managed services offering, but what they share is that they realise the complexities of running a service. There are always going to be updates and issues with integration. With a maturing video service, things become more complex. Many service providers realise that this is not what they want to do now. They want to focus on what’s important for them – content distribution and strategy, and maybe monetisation.

We know how to run a service and we know about all the things that impact users – everything from app-load times to playback to interruptions to scrolling time – and all the performance parameters that can be important.

What differentiates Accedo’s entry into OTT managed services from the competition?

We are video-centric, but we’re also customer centric and UX-driven. I think for any video service, this is a key success factor, so we approach managed services with that as a lodestar.

Not only is there increasing pressure on providers to be profitable, but in many cases, they are facing market saturation. Users aren’t stacking video services as they did previously. Churn is in some cases nearing 50%. The way to address that is with an engaging and appropriate UX.

Another element for us is that we don’t believe in one-size-fits-all. We do believe in a best-of-breed approach because different customers are going to be in different situations. We need to be able to select the components that are best for a particular customer.

And not only do you need to choose the right technology, but you also need to bear in mind the business objectives of the customers and the needs of their target users. It is all about optimising the entire end-to-end solution and we think we can do this very well.

What do you mean by a UX-driven approach and what practical impact will this have on the type of service provided?

The most successful video service providers out there are good at selecting features, functionality, and UX parameters that are the key to exactly target their users. Throwing in all the bells and whistles and providing everything for everyone doesn’t do the trick, apart from the fact that this obviously drives up cost.

By understanding consumers’ needs and behaviours really well, it is possible to design a UX that is exactly right for the target audience. You need to start with the end users, and you do that by testing and making improvements over time.

What are the essential elements of the offering that further the goal of profitability for content service providers?

We can talk about business models in the same way that we talk about building a suitable UX through an understanding of the users. You get to the right mix between SVOD and AVOD, and you can discover if there are other ways to monetise through additional revenue streams, depending on the kind of video service you are operating. The same methodology applies – understanding the user.

Of course there are other elements. With a managed service, the customer is in a better position to predict costs. That is a great benefit and enables better planning to get to profitability.

We are translating our 20 years of experience into finding cost-efficient ways of running a video service. That includes streamlining operations, using AI and advanced monitoring and all the other tools and techniques that we have.

To that end we have always been technology-agnostic. We work with everyone, depending on the needs of the customer and the solution they require. We believe we are best-placed to provide the managed services offering, with some or most of the end-to-end solution provided as components by partners. But we will run the service and take responsibility for it.

Accedo One_Man pointing at TV

What benefits will your platform bring to content service providers?

This will be different from customer to customer. Part of what we are offering with managed services is strategic advice, so we wouldn’t go into something that we didn’t understand thoroughly.

But everything starts with the users and the business objectives that the customer has. Some things are common to all. There needs to be premium quality and that needs to be across the board, throughout the tech stack. The UX-led approach is another. By winning over the user, you gain a competitive advantage by bringing down churn rates or increasing uptake of the service through a compelling experience.

Ultimately, however, to be successful in providing managed services you need to provide cost savings and that comes back to your tools and your teams but also to scale. We achieve scale by running multiple services and working with multiple partners and customers across the globe.

How far along are you with the development of your commercial model?

What we know from interacting with customers is that they want to use an Opex model. They don’t want to have a lot of front-loaded expenditure.

There are always variations – is the offering across multiple markets or only one? Does it require solution for sports or is it a traditional SVOD service? The model will vary a bit based on these things.

But ultimately, customers want predictable running costs month by month, with, typically, a variable fee based on business parameters such as subscriber uptake. That provides benefits for the customer – and for us.

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