Who has their eyes on TV?

Retro TV

Our industry loves bemoaning the death of SMS, (rumours of said death greatly exaggerated), decreasing margins and the awful OTT people who are trying to take their livelihoods away. While doing so they are turning into a serious threat to another industry – television.

Courtesy of our friends at informitv, recent headlines say it all.

In one, it announced that TalkTalk has signed up over half a million homes to YouView. In another that BT TV now reaches 900,000 customers.

The battle for attention is truly afoot.

Knitting together more headlines from informitv, the story of a real struggle emerges. Young Americans are less and less likely to subscribe to Pay TV, cable companies continue to lose video customers – a million between the two largest in the last year, and Cablevision’s boss recently said that he could see the day when his company stops offering television and makes broadband its primary service.

We might think that our industry is a dynamic, exciting place. Television is almost too exciting to watch.

In the end broadband and ‘television’ will merge and become one. In essence, all screens will simply be windows into content. ‘Television’ as a word will either become the term that used to mean a large box that flickered in the corner, or a generic word for content. Content, or television, will be available on any device, transferable to any device and the billing of it will be seamless.


This scenario strengthens the argument that billing needs to get closer to the device, must be under the control of the customer and must have real-time capabilities backing it up. That is, if ‘television’ providers are going to be able to offer those ‘spur of the moment’ deals that will bring extra revenue in the face of customers beginning to refuse to pay for television. We are beginning to see these emerge in the ‘telco’ world – and the much talked about data roaming deals are certainly taking off. Telcos also understand and are very good at bundling services, they know – or are getting there – how to control churn and in this new market, at least, understand that they cannot innovate, so have set up new ‘television’ divisions.

One has to wonder, when it comes to the television wars, are telcos best placed to win?

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About Alex Leslie 400 Articles
Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet.

1 Comment

  1. Very good observation Alex and we are witnessing change right in front of our eyes. Your question about telco’s ability to innovate and eventually “win the war” is well placed, although if it judging by the past, large telcos are good in aggregation (collecting companies) of services, but innovation is unfortunately long gone. Driven by cost reduction need and ongoing infrastructure capital expenditure and failed “innovative” product launches, many telcos retrenched to the core services and became commodity.
    But, there are very interesting examples which you identified (BT, TalkTalk), however, real shining star in my opinion is Vodafone, which is brave and taking very aggressive stands with broadband and cable TV providers (Germany, Spain, South Africa, etc.). Innovation, in many ways means risk, and long term commitment. In the reverse, we see that PayTV operators are not sitting still and Liberty’s John Malone after taking over Virgin Media declared open season for further acquisitions. So, we see that Europe is becoming much more interesting battle ground and war is clearly on!
    Next year will be interesting in seeing real impact of new products and bundles offered by Vodafone and T-Mobile. Both of them and to a degree Orange, will benefit from utilizing global IP network to terminate traffic locally and continue reduce costs to offset ongoing ARPU erosion.
    In summary, teclos have a great opportunity to consolidate services and service providers under banners of trusted brands, although that might not be sufficient for overall victory.

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