As MSOs roll out video-on-demand services, there is a growing need to understand traffic and usage patterns to cut down on system problems, from an engineering perspective, and to provide marketing departments with usage data that can be used to improve usage and buy rates.
In some cases, MSOs are turning to data warehousing companies that collate data across a cable system for engineers and marketers to use.
One such company is Everstream Inc., which launched last month in Time Warner Cable's national division, its sixth TWC division to have penetrated.
Another major MSO has contracted with Everstream, company president Stephen McHale said, and several more are testing the software.
"Our focus is trying to help operators achieve a return on investment for the capital that they've spent," said McHale. "It's a data warehouse solution for any ITV application that would be deployed."
Everstream was founded in 1999 with the sole purpose of handling advanced digital cable applications, such as VOD.
"The systems are very transactional-oriented but not business-oriented," McHale said. With VOD, there are two stakeholders, McHale said, marketing product management people and engineering that includes operations. Both groups need accurate data of what's going on in their VOD systems.
Everstream's operational intelligence software is a web-based, data warehouse product that sits at the market level, McHale said. "It collects data from lot of different systems," he said, including the transport plant, QAM devices and headend/server equipment.
"We correlate data and combine that with plant data to get a picture of what's going on with that service," he said. "We can see it on a real time and trending basis, and get all information on what's happening."
The "scorecard" gives MSOs information on key performance indicators, such as:
- How many subs in market are enabled in this market?
- How many are active or using service in time period?
- What's the average take rate?
- What's the average revenue per sub that's active?
- Are people buying more content?
- What's the stream success rate?
- What's the session success or failure rate?
- What's the revenue loss per failed session?
"This scorecard gives them key indicators at a glance," McHale said. And the information can be broken down by node or headend.
A key metric for marketers, for example, is inactive accounts, the one-time VOD users that have stopped using the service, McHale said.
Those are a key focus area, he said, because they are more likely to downgrade service or churn from cable altogether.
"By using the S4 Oi software, we have been able to more effectively measure our progress with video on demand, pinpointing areas in which to focus our efforts," said Dick Amell, vice president of engineering for Time Warner's national division.
Everstream also provides a remote analysis service, for those MSO who are shorthanded. With that service, Everstream analyzes the system data and reports back to MSOs where improvements can be made.
The data provides MSOs information on where their VOD technology may be breaking down. "We're basically an instant regression testing tool," McHale said, allowing MSOs to find "specific vendors that were having bugs or problems.
It allows them to take action and pinpoint information that helps the other vendors determine what had gone wrong and how to fix the problem much quicker."
McHale also said Everstream is working on a comprehensive marketing campaign software system that will be ready in the next year or two.
"It allows operators to leverage the warehouse, and provide targeted promotions and campaigns down their interactive channels," he said.