The proliferation of Internet-connected devices has created a worldwide audience for premium digital content that has never been bigger or hungrier. The visible change in how we're consuming media is great news for content creators, publishers and technology enablers alike looking to grow audience reach. But they're all having to navigate a landscape carved up by business constraints and the ongoing fragmentation of viewers, devices, platforms and operating systems. Against this backdrop of growing complexity, how can a media organisation come to grips with TV Everywhere?
It's a question I recently debated at a panel session on "Demystifying Digital," organised by Broadcast Magazine, which examined the steps required to build a successful TV Everywhere strategy. My co-panelist Sky's product development director Gareth Capon opened the proceedings by highlighting Sky Go as an example of how TV Everywhere can be done well. The direct result of consumer demand for anywhere, anytime content, Sky Go neatly pulls all of Sky’s multi-platform services into one proposition that offers a consistent service across multiple screens.
With more than three million Sky customers using the service, the popularity of such new modes of viewing couldn't be clearer. TV Everywhere is no longer a buzzword, but needs to form a part of every content owner's strategy; however, it's important to look hard at the business value in launching on a new platform. The very real costs of developing, launching, and then operating a digital initiative mean that each device platform should be scrutinised closely in relation to its target audience and the solid ROI it can promise. In addition, ensuring the right "plumbing" is in place for delivery is key to laying the foundations for success; publishers must have a solid CDN partner for delivering a compelling, engaging user experience that showcases content in its best light.
When considering where to launch a service, the key is to fish where the fish are; evaluate where the biggest audiences are and go there first, mindful of the fact that different devices attract different audiences. Deciding when to go is also a challenge. Publishers need to get to a platform at a time where the scale of growth is there, and ensure that they’re creating an experience where it’s actually being demanded. It's also important to appreciate that there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to user experience. Different screens provide different possibilities for engagement, and that's not just owing to differences in screen real-estate. Consumers exhibit different modes of behaviour dependent on what device they’re using, and some types of engagement will always be more appropriate on certain devices.
Similarly, any monetisation must be tailored to the service. Triggered by the likes of OTT service providers such as Hulu, Netflix and Lovefilm, one of the greatest developments in TV is the way in which consumers are being conditioned for--and are welcoming--a variety of payment models for their media. From rentals, to subscriptions and pay-per-view, OTT service providers have made it acceptable to put a price tag next to video. But a monetisation model that works for one use case, won't necessarily serve another as effectively. In addition, as our panel discussion highlighted, the focus should be on making a service entertaining and popular before an advertising strategy is truly ramped up, as too much advertising too soon can feel intrusive and hamper the overall user experience.
As the changes in how we consume media continue to play out, "demystifying digital" will become increasingly important to broadcasters wanting to stay relevant to their audiences. Innovation within the user experience will be vital – expect to see far more simplicity across VOD players, and a lot more mileage to be had from second screen experiences. And fragmentation is not going away. Increasingly, broadcasters will view the desktop as less of a priority; but, the mobile shift has not finished playing out yet.
In their efforts to establish a foolproof Connected TV strategy, media companies must focus on figuring out where demand lies, establishing a long-term content programming strategy, and delivering a streamlined and simple user experience. Additionally, they must also be equipped with an understanding of the measurable business benefits of launching a service on a new platform.
Image courtesy of Theo Wood on behalf of Broadcast Magazine