In Today’s TV Environment, Not Even Apple Is an Island

A platform- and device-agnostic distribution plan is now the only strategy that makes sense
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One of the most glaring revelations that came out of Apple’s recent press conference about their new streaming service was that the company intends to launch it on a variety of existing platforms, including Roku, Amazon Fire TV and via smart TVs. Even Apple, which has been notorious for keeping to its own ecosystem, is acknowledging that in today’s TV market, the only strategy that makes sense is to be available across as many platforms and devices as possible.

Mark Romano

Mark Romano

But being distributed on a multitude of platforms isn’t necessarily the only recipe for success in the long run‚ and especially for programming services without Apple’s deep pockets. There have been a lot of conflicting headlines about the viability of various TV business models: “Linear is Dead!,” “Linear is Still a Majority of TV Viewing,” “No One Watches Ads — SVOD is Soaring,” “Subscription Fatigue has Curbed the Growth of SVOD,” “AVOD is the New King of Streaming.” Which path is the right one?

Rather than change the course of your business plan every six months, it’s probably best to take a wise investor’s approach and diversify your portfolio.

Whether its linear, subscription video-on-demand or ad-supported VOD, by offering MVPDs, vMVPDs and apps the customized version of your service they need, you’re already giving them a compelling reason to want to consider adding it.

I’ve spent most of my career in cable TV and while the TV business looks very different now than it did when I started, it’s still a business of mutually beneficial relationships and content is still king. But once you establish a standout brand and content offering that you know viewers will want, it’s no longer good enough to deliver it in a one-size-fits-all format. Whether you’re trying to launch your service on a traditional cable platform, an OTT service, as an app on Android or iOS, on smart TVs or via social media channels, it pays to have a business model that fits the platform and its audience.

One of the biggest factors in how the TV business will morph and evolve in the next few years is purely an economic one. How many services will consumers be willing to pay for? Certainly, the recent rise in AVOD channels and platforms is an indication that subscription-only services may struggle for market share if the average consumer is only subscribing to 2.1 services. Can a channel that relies solely on subscription revenue reach the kind of critical mass needed to support a robust commercial-free programming offering?

The rollout of 5G will also have an impact on the industry. The increased bandwidth that is brought by 5G will bring yet another reliable path to deliver bandwidth-heavy UHD content, driving UHD further.

Channels that produce and own all rights to their content can deliver that content everywhere and anywhere by taking advantage of all of the different routes to market, including linear, SVOD, and AVOD. And having content that is poised to take advantage of upcoming technological advancements and innovations like 5G is a way to future-proof your business.

By controlling, delivering and marketing content to relevant audiences via linear and digital platforms, channels can create the size, scale and customer base that makes their unique propositions competitive in a TV landscape that is getting more and more crowded and complex by the minute.

Mark Romano is vice president, Americas, at Insight TV, a 4K UHD channel featuring adventure, lifestyle and extreme sports original content.

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