Long reads


Q&A: Simon Trudelle, NAGRA

Simon Trudelle, senior director of product marketing at NAGRA, talks about the changes driving take-up of OTT among consumers and how OTT TV technology can transform the TV experience

What are the key changes in consumer behaviour that are driving take up of OTT TV technology by service providers?

Our 2018 Pay-TV Innovation Forum research findings show consumers are clearly enjoying the new freedom that OTT TV gives them to consume the content they love, anytime and anywhere, on the screen of their choice. Yet one could argue that anytime TV – via the PVR – appeared two decades ago and anywhere TV with smartphones and Wi-Fi connections a decade later. So what has really changed? First, quality content: high-budget series are produced for on-demand consumption, and live TV events such as sports are also streamed in UHD. Second, Catch-up TV and other VOD content from the cloud are broadly available and monetised. Finally, publishing and accessing new content through apps has never been so easy. A growing share of consumers worldwide have tried and tested such services, and they appreciate this new model. However, as the NAGRA-sponsored TV Tribes research from Ampere Analysis highlighted, the pay-TV consumer market basically features five major audience segments with different content needs and consumption habits. The only thing we know for sure is that consumer behaviour will keep evolving quickly over the coming years. Pay-TV service providers – incumbent and new entrant telcos – need to keep innovating.

What advantages can OTT technology provide for pay TV operators and how can they adapt to the new market needs?

It’s all about operational flexibility and feature agility. This goes from the frontend UI to the apps that are on-boarded, and the backend platform that powers and secures TV services. OTT offers potential, yet the underlying platform needs to address multiple use cases, both in terms of user experience and content protection expectations across all screens. This implies upgrading and moving key backend functions to the cloud – a move that large cablecos and telcos are acting on – while ensuring that the TV platform can be frequently and rapidly updated to address new opportunities, and leverage data analytics and AI to build intimate subscriber knowledge.

To what extent can OTT deliver a superior experience to that of traditional pay TV?

OTT content is often accessed through a very different customer journey compared to the traditional channel-based scheme that many TV viewers still appreciate as well. This means that service providers need to develop user interfaces that support and blend both navigation journeys and are consistent across multiple devices, providing a complete set of TV features, from linear to start-over, catch-up, flexible on-demand offerings, and seamless access to multiple content sources or apps. This is why at NAGRA we developed OpenTV Signature Edition, a multi-journey user interface and platform that enables service providers to address different viewers’ needs. And, with support of STB platforms like Android TV, we ensure that viewers have optimised access to multiple sources of OTT video apps.

What impact has Android TV had on the market?

The market is split in two camps regarding Android TV. Large operators see a complex trade-off if they chose to do business with Google, which offers its Android TV software platform for free in exchange for access to highly valuable usage data. Conversely, smaller providers realise that Google’s STB platform helps them reduce their overall TV solution costs, leapfrogging competition with apps and on-demand content. Giving up some control and value to strike a major partnership makes sense to them.

NAGRA’s extensive product portfolio helps operators address these key requirements, both for large and small operators. For those wanting to capitalise on the Android TV opportunity, OpenTV Signature Edition covers all major end-to-end needs, enabling operators to quickly launch a fully-featured Android TV platform, addressing user experience, security, data analytics and hardware – while reaping the benefits it provides in terms of deployment speed, access to apps, and reduced complexity. This makes Android TV a viable monetisation option for their pay-TV services.

What are the challenges in providing an OTT TV experience that matches or exceeds that of pay TV and what solutions are available?

OTT TV and pay-TV are just the two sides of the same paid content coin and consumers don’t care about the difference. As the recent World Cup showed, appetite for unicast streaming services is growing fast yet the scalability of multicast and broadcast solutions are still proving immensely valuable for high viewership events. While progress has been spectacular, we are working with industry leaders to overcome challenges to deliver the low latency experience that consumers expect. Meanwhile, service providers need to play smart and leverage their existing infrastructure while planning for seamless transition to OTT TV over time. At NAGRA, we have developed expertise and products to help our customers, large and small, just do that: evolve their business, secure their aggregator of choice position or enter new territory through partnerships.