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Q&A: Jörg Meyer of Zattoo on operators’ critical need for IPTV platforms

Jörg Meyer, chief commercial officer, Zattoo, explains how small and medium-sized network operators in an increasingly competitive market can tap into white-label IPTV offerings to compete effectively with larger, well-resourced players.


Why is an up-to-date IPTV platform critical for the success of network operators?

Deploying an up-to-date IPTV platform is a critical part of ensuring the success of a modern service provider’s offering. Delivering a multi-play proposition is a must for any network operator looking to compete in the market today and tomorrow. And it is important to realise that TV is an essential part of the mix. Customers expect internet, telephony and TV from a single source and TV is an important driver for customer acquisition and retention. Operators are also facing intense competition – and competition that is increasing all the time – on multiple fronts from both national and international providers, so it is doubly important to offer something distinctive. And an added-value service like TV is the clearest way to do that.

What are the key challenges facing network operators in operating their own IPTV platforms?

Many network operators lack the critical scale that would justify the development and operation of their own home-built IPTV platform. Such a platform comes with ever-growing requirements that are too complex for many operators to manage. They face increasing demands not only from their own end customers, but also from their content partners. They not only need to develop and operate the platform but to constantly update it to meet new consumer demands and to ensure that the user experience remains up to date. For many operators building their own platform is simply not a sustainable solution.

What solutions are available and what do they offer?

The good news is that the market offers solutions in the shape of competitive white label IPTV platforms – meaning platforms that allow customer-branded IPTV services. Operators now have the option of delivering a state-of-the-art IPTV service and delivering something distinct without making huge upfront investments of their own or losing control of their own destiny.

What advantages might a white label platform offer and what are the essential elements of such a platform?

Relying on a white label platform or TV-as-a-Service enables operators to tap into the benefits of scale, as such platforms are deployed across multiple service providers, enabling costs to be kept down. They don’t need to make unnecessary big upfront technology infrastructure investments. Because of those benefits of scale, operators can benefit from state-of-the-art functionality that is constantly updated without the need to maintain large engineering teams. In fact, they are freed up from focusing on the technology and can concentrate on marketing to, and servicing, their customers. Such a platform should offer, among other things, an advanced set-top box and app-based IPTV and OTT experience. It should be possible to deliver advanced feature sets including network DVR, catch up TV and instant restart, and applications for web, mobile and streaming devices.

What do network operators need to consider when choosing an IPTV platform?

Choosing the right platform concept requires network operators to make a few key strategic decisions. Operators should be clear about the general objective of their IPTV activities and what they want to achieve with it. They should have a clear understanding of what skills they want to build up in-house and they have to provide a clear direction for the business case to their teams, meaning whether the TV product in itself shall generate a positive contribution margin or whether it’s financed from the revenues of other product areas where it contributes to sales.  When answering these questions, network operators need to consider the impact of increasing price pressure they face from very large operators – typically former incumbents – that control a large part of the market. Of course, these former incumbents are themselves under increasing pressure from global OTT players, with subscribers increasingly tempted to cut the cord. In competitive scenarios such as this, which are becoming more and more frequent, the ability to deploy a carrier-grade IPTV service can make a big contribution to maintaining or even expanding the scope operators possess to price their services flexibly, enabling them to compete directly with these very large players. Such TV services are, after all, a significant driver of premium customer experience in telecommunications markets today.

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