Dublin, 7 March 2018
The future of bundled services in the OTT world
Brett Sappington, Senior Director of Research at Parks Associates opened the consumer-focused session with a reminder that as well as products and operators, consumer demands are changing rapidly. Customers increasingly subscribe to a variety of OTT services, and the number of services available has grown extremely quickly. In this environment, Sappington said, “hard definitions about what is a pay TV operator, what is an OTT player, are going away.” He added that “the race for aggregation is on, and if operators are not already thinking about how to respond, it may be too late already.”
A panel of senior operators and industry experts considered whether the traditional bundle has a place in this new ecosystem. Paul Farrell, Vice President Commercial at Virgin Media, conceded that “we haven’t really delivered that perceived value. The bundle has a long way to go but it needs to be more consumer driven.” Other participants agreed that bundles have a future, with Arran Tindall, SVP Commercial & Content Distribution at Viacom, insisting that “there’s growth potential there, combined with OTT services. Although there has been unbundling driven by OTT, there’s probably more rebundling to come which will take video subscription rates to 50% and beyond.” John Vonk, VP Pricing & Planning at Comcast Cable, believes that is in the interests of OTT providers too, noting that “Netflix’s stickiest customers are the ones that are bundled through broadband service providers.”
Panel moderator Duane Dick of Sand Cherry Associates couldn’t resist asking Vonk about a potential Comcast acquisition of Sky. Vonk stressed that “scale is really important and Comcast sees opportunities to grow overseas.” He also pointed out that “we love growing businesses – we took NBCU from the number four network in the US to number one.”
A multi-gigabit, connected home on the horizon?
During the afternoon panel of Day Two, Nicolas Fortineau, Director in-home Connectivity Products at Liberty Global, considered the challenges of a multi-gigabit home experience and said that “the most important need is reliability of services and a fundamental change in the way we deliver products.”
The biggest challenge of a connected multi-gigabit home is the quality of WiFi, speakers believed. Charles Cheevers from ARRIS thinks that “new smart home engineering is needed to solve the 4k problem,” for which home WiFi modems need to handle high-speed video delivery similar to cable. Increasing demand for WiFi creates an important business opportunity for cable operators. Another challenge is the hardware required for a perfect end-to-end user experience. Even though operators’ networks are compatible with retail modems through standards agreements, speakers agreed that using devices supplied by the IP provider is better for network performance, WiFi management and security.
A bright future for DOCSIS
Volker Leisse, Senior Strategic Executive Advisor at CableLabs presented DOCSIS 3.1 as a future-proof technology capable of delivering gigabit speeds. Cable operators such as Virgin Media, UPC, SFR and Vodafone are already delivering 500 Mbps speeds with DOCSIS 3.0, and are getting ready to deploy DOCSIS 3.1 and unleash its full potential. With more spectrum frequency released, DOCSIS can reach and surpass 10Gbps speeds. CableLabs and its partners are working on developing low latency platforms that cover end-to-end components, WiFi at home, and a data collection engine.
Project Kairos winner announced
This year for the first time, Cable Congress welcomed Project Kairos, a global event series aimed at connecting high-potential start-ups with industry and investment through pitching, showcasing and learning opportunities. After hearing the pitches from the finalist startups yesterday during Day One of Cable Congress, the judges announced the winner today: Media Distillery, a Dutch start-up providing unique AI technology to understand what’s inside video, thanks to next-generation metadata in real-time at an unparalleled scale. The judges were impressed by Media Distillery’s pitch, and the combination of a proven track record and broad potential for future opportunities, with many possibilities for them to develop new use-cases and enter new markets such as security or smart cities.
Multi-platform experience and great timeless content are the future
In the final plenary session of Cable Congress, Wim Ponnet, Chief Strategy and Commercial Officer at Endemol Shine Group, set out the success of the multi-platform approach. The increase in content consumption on mobile devices and the use of 2-3 platforms in every household (including linear TV) shows that talk of ‘cord-cutting’ is just scaremongering. With multi-platform channels and direct engagement, providers are reaching a global audience through easy access, engaging formats and great content. Ponnet said that “innovation and storytelling thrive together and unlock creativity,” making the success of shows like The Crown and Stranger Things possible. “In addition to creativity, innovation unlocks 24/7 streaming on multiple devices and a fully interactive viewing experience. The multi-platform approach is the way to go for broadcasters to reach their audiences.”
About Cable Congress and Cable Europe
Cable Congress 2018 took place in Dublin on 6th and 7th of March. Please visit www.cablecongress.com for further information, talk to us on Twitter via @CableEurope, and follow the conversation live using #cablecongress.
Cable Europe is the trade association that connects leading broadband cable TV operators and their national trade associations throughout the European Union. The regulatory and public policy activities of Cable Europe aim to promote and defend the industry’s policies and business interests at European and international level. The European cable industry provides high speed broadband internet, TV services, and telephony to more than 65.1 million homes in the European Union. www.cable-europe.eu
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