TV subscriptions are plateauing and broadcasters, satellite, cable and OTT TV players are searching for new options. TV is now a disruptive landscape and there are opportunities and threats in equal measure, so said many of the speakers at last week’s OTT TV World Summit. Advertising is one avenue to money, but operators are also exploring a range of pricing options that attempt to grab business from the opposition.
One example was that customers could pay for a single programme – as they do in iTunes, another that operators could offer ‘one day’ passes or ‘series’ passes, if they wanted to watch a series offered by a content provider that was not part of that provider’s offering. Some, such as Sky, are launching entirely new services, in their case ‘Now TV’, with these kind of ‘snacking’ plans, in order to muscle in on other players’ turf.
The consensus, however, was that this is new territory, that no-one is sure of what will work. While the idea of being able to buy one programme at a time is compelling at first glance, it would be irritating if you had to spend your evening buying one programme after another. TV, the speakers and audience agreed, was about entertainment and relaxation, not about complicated interfaces and buying bits and pieces. But micro payments is in the mesh of ideas being thrown about and who better to manage micro payments, with a back end micro settlement to Rights Owners, than telcos?
Oddly, the audience was light on telcos (although the cynic in me is not surprised at all) and the number of telcos speaking about their offerings outweighed the number of telcos listening to them. Second screens were widely discussed – a huge percentage of viewers of TV are playing with a tablet or smartphone while watching. The advertising opportunities were discussed and the operators and broadcasters were universally excited. The people who create and place the ads for the maximum effect are, however, losing sleep about getting the medium, the message and the channel right. Too much product placement within the content is a turn off, literally, too little, or the wrong platform and you lose out to a competitor.
T-commerce was discussed, although only briefly, and while PayPal may think that TV is bigger, or as big as, mobile, it seems that the feeling here is that operators need to get the basic offering right before getting too clever with remote controls (which can, of course, be the smartphone) and with adverts that come alive in a hologram that takes over the living room. One slightly downbeat conclusion is that while media might move fast, money moves slowly. It took 43 years for TV advertising revenues to overtake newspaper advertising revenues and so it will be a while before we know which models really work.
It is a huge opportunity, but having watched two days of people getting really excited by a range of opportunities that are, as yet unproven and untried, the cynic in me says ‘leave it alone, it’s fine – just get me a beer and let’s watch the game.
Next up: Content Discovery – an Impossible Task?
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