The short answer is yes. As my learned colleague Ed Finegold points out, the Age of traditional Cable Companies may be coming to an end. Purchases of new TVs are being driven by screen size and price but more and more by whether they are Internet enabled.
As we know only too well in the communications world, telcos now need real time capability in their charging and pricing infrastructure. In fact, real time capabilities are now needed, not just to provide instant information, but to provide Internet like predictive capabilities and choices.
Billing is something that traditional Cable Companies used to find easy. They used to run on monthly subscriptions, end of story. Recently they have introduced new charging functionality that allows customers to choose special offers and ‘one off’ deals. Now, some OTT TV players are offering subscription free services and are basing their pricing on ‘value.’ In fact, for some years ‘traditional telcos’ have been working with their ‘traditional cableco’ partners to teach them about agile, micro billing.
Billing is not the only thing that telcos and their vendors can teach TV. The processes, working practices and IT infrastructure of much of the TV landscape is out of date. There is still a culture of physically delivering a disk or tape to the studio and watching while someone presses a button. This is based on trust and deadlines. Sending a programme over a broadband network – trusting a telco – is just too risky if you have no time to test the content the other end. This is not a criticism of the TV world, that is how they have always done it. But until that culture changes – and they learn to trust a telco – and the underlying Accidental IT infrastructure changes radically, the Internet and TV will have a hard time co-existing.
Add innovations in payments and shopping to the world of TV and things get even more complex. There are new ideas of viewers being ‘surrounded’ by an advert and able to buy promoted products at the touch of a remote control button or wave of a hand. We have seen visions of almost everything converging – of ‘shops’ in taxis – thanks to QR codes – of families watching different content on different devices throughout the house and of everything we want to do being instantaneous, allowing service providers to make billions on that ‘impulse’ moment. That world is still a way off.
The telecoms world is only just working out how to get there. Recent surveys have shown us that while operators have come to the conclusion that real time is now necessary, not just nice to have, traditional TV companies are further behind that curve and are in more danger of losing out to OTT providers than Telcos are.
It seems that in TV, even more than Telecoms, it all comes back to billing.