Pay-TV penetration is now down to 79% of U.S. TV homes, vs. 84% in 2014, per Leichtman Research Group findings. This means multi-system operators are working overtime to prevent even deeper video-subscriber losses. Among their tasks is to find fresh ways to convince subscribers their packages are more convenient and provide better value.
MSOs have long been innovators – but now they have to innovate more than ever.
I know. I was in their shoes when I oversaw content and advertising for AT&T U-verse.
The digital revolution has taught us that consumers embrace at least some level of personalization. Netflix has successfully challenged the existing “TV” ecosystem by recommending content to subscribers based on their viewing habits.
And here’s something else I’ve learned from observing trends in TV-consumption habits: Consumers, toggling among more and more screens, want their “TV” content aggregated. The question for our industry is, “What does aggregation look like going forward?” Because much of where we’re headed flows from that question.
Helping spur the cord-cutting wave is the explosion of increasingly high-quality long-form digital video content available on a variety of platforms. But discovering this content among the sea of options is the challenge. A particular consumer’s ideal package of video content, whether digital-first or from a “traditional” TV source, may be out there somewhere; the consumer just has to find it — or it has to find the consumer.
In this new world, MSOs have to boil their thinking down to “the 5 Cs”: consumers, connecting, content, community and, consequently, commerce.
What if high-quality digital content — the type of which might be luring subscribers away from MSOs — can be packaged up into an easy-to-use personalized viewing experience consumers can access directly from the electronic program guide? The convenience and availability of engaging content could provide subscribers with a value proposition that might persuade them to stick with a traditional pay-TV service. MSOs would be able to open additional revenue streams with minimal risk by diversifying their content offerings and possibly decreasing subscriber loss.
Which takes me to my current role, as CEO of zone·tv®. The company already is a leading provider of SVOD content; selections of zone·tv’s diverse programming can be seen on AT&T U-verse, Comcast, DIRECTV, CenturyLink, TELUS, Bell Canada, Frontier Communications and others.
But today, we’re taking the television experience a quantum leap forward with our recent debut of an entirely new form of television programming: zone·tv Dynamic Channels, which will be available via affiliated MVPDs and vMVPDs.
This group of 14 individual linear-like TV channels will deliver human-curated digital-first content that is augmented with artificial intelligence, to provide a highly personalized viewing experience. If you want to see what these channels are about, you should watch this https://zone.tv/zone·tv-dynamic-channels-launch/
Twelve of the 14 new channels are segmented by age groups and by genre to super-serve aficionados of programming about food, gaming, specialty sports, outdoor adventure, kids, entertainment and much more. We have acquired 70,000 shows never seen on television to create these new channels, each of which offers multiple simultaneous program choices that transform hard-to-find digital content into easy-to-use, engaging television, accessible via electronic programming guides (EPGs) for easy discovery and with program streams keyed to change on the fly to super-serve viewer preferences.
The result is the first pay-TV programming to utilize artificial intelligence to enhance a linear-like channel — a new cable/satellite content category that offers a personal user experience blending the convenience of linear viewing with the flexibility of on-demand programming.
And most importantly it is truly dynamic in every sense of the word — for consumers, video producers and distributors.
So, back to the “5 Cs.” We’ve already addressed the ideas of connecting consumers with content they want. Here’s where the 5th “C”— commerce— enters the picture.
Zone·tv Dynamic Channels don’t require any new hardware in the home. Consumers use their familiar TV remotes and existing set-top boxes to discover shows and enable features like fast-forward and pause. Affiliates can easily add new content with no disruption to current channel line-ups. Since zone·tv is delivered from the cloud, zone·tv manages the feed: there are no bandwidth management issues for service providers. Affiliates and content providers share in zone·tv’s success through a revenue-sharing model.
The digital revolution brought us on-demand content that allowed consumers to begin to personalize their viewing diet — though with quite a bit of work. We look forward to welcoming partners and consumers in this new revolution to make TV personalization easy.