Gokula Krishnan Subramaniam is Head of Engagement Practice, TV & Media Management in South East Asia & Oceania for Ericsson, diamond sponsors of the Broadband Asia conference, taking place taking place on the 29th-30th April 2014 at the Suntec, Singapore. Ahead of the show we catch up with Subramaniam to find out more about Ericsson’s vision for the evolution of TV, delivered via next-generation LTE networks.
The TV industry is becoming ‘TV Anywhere’, when media meets mobility, what are the key drivers to this transformation?
We firmly believe that the game of television is changing. The next six years will be highly influential in the development of the TV and media world. The November 2013 Ericsson Mobility Report, reports that video is the largest and fastest growing mobile data traffic segment and is expected to increase by around 55 per cent annually up until the end of 2019, accounting for more than 50 per cent of global mobile traffic. In the Networked Society, by 2020 there will be at least 50 billion connected devices, 15 billion of which will offer video to users. The convergence of entertainment with mobile broadband will radically change our perceptions of what TV is, what it will become and how the landscape will need to adapt in order to respond to the changes, opportunities and challenges presented.
Another driver is consumer expectation: innovative new technologies are redefining the TV and media viewing experience. Yet despite these technologies, the consumer TV experience can be fragmented and frustrating. Consumers use numerous video services to find content and switch between multiple devices with varying content viewing abilities. Hence, they are showing increased demands for a personalized, seamlessly integrated experience – multimedia anytime, anywhere and on any device. They will expect, and become reliant on, their devices being always connected to high-speed and universal broadband, providing access to what interests them and enabling them to easily share.
According to our recent Consumerlab research, mobile devices make up an increasing share of TV and video viewing: 72 per cent use mobile devices at least weekly for video viewing, 42 per cent do this outside the home. TV is becoming a multiscreen and multitasking activity: 75 per cent multitask by using mobile devices while watching TV.
Last but not least is the growth of content and technology. In today’s content world, many regard TV serials as the new movies. The proliferation of TV serials will provide entertainment for every niche part of the society. There is also increasing demand for old and niche content where governments are starting to fund digitization of video assets as they are regarded as national treasures. Hence, besides the mainstream content, older content which still appeals to many segments of the society is making its way back via digitization. With LTE and LTE-A enabling broadcast capabilities towards mobile devices, consumers can be reached with relatively a good quality video experience via multiple access platforms.
How will this growth impact service providers?
The Ericsson mobility report shows that video will remain the major driver for data growth. Such growth creates immense demand on network performance as customers will switch if they get better quality of experience elsewhere. Many Tier 1 operators are already looking into the concept of “video ready networks” that are video-aware to handle the delivery of live video and multimedia services to a large number of consumers simultaneously, taking the video experience to new and exciting levels. They are revising their network design to be more agile, looking at how to optimize and deliver video with the best quality, lowest latency and with taking up minimum capacity. We will see these “smart, video-ready networks” at the heart of the network performance focus of operators in the next few years.
Given the growing trend of consuming video on the move, there will be greater emphasis on securing multiscreen content rights and protecting such rights with strong DRM (Digital Rights Management) technologies to make sure the video being delivered is secure and intended for the right audience with appropriate censorship based on age and location. Multi-country operators are also looking at negotiating rights cross borders to facilitate joint OTT launches. This is a tricky area and remains a game changer even for the content industry.
A key area which has been a challenge to many providers has been monetization. The traditional pay TV models may not be applicable in the OTT world. The Gen Y’s are used to consuming most of their services on the internet for free or near free (freemium). New OTT business models will flourish, the concept of freemium I believe will remain at the core of such business models with advertising being a key aspect of monetization. Our Consumerlab annual survey on video also shows more than 30 per cent likelihood for users to pay for TV content when it’s viewed in the context of their social network. This very much shows the need for the OTT services to tightly integrate key social media platforms and enable users to recommend and communicate with their social ecosystem via their TV services. The various interactions with end users should be captured through analytics systems for analysis, and operators should be agile and nimble enough to alter their market offerings based on the data analyzed through the analytics platforms.
What is your advice to operators wanting to get into the Pay TV/OTT business?
If you are an operator wanting to get into the Pay TV business, you need to understand your market, your customers and the kind of content you can reach too. The content consumption behaviors in North America or Europe differ to those in Asia. There is no one segment that fits all. What we have with some operators is the excessive focus on wanting to be “Netflix” and in the process learning the hard way the cost of acquiring foreign content and the inability to drive enough traffic to monetize such content rights.
Another important thing is to study the business models in the markets. For example, we have seen in some emerging markets, a monthly subscription of USD3 may not fly with consumers but a monthly subscription with daily deduction of USD 0.10 cents is able to attract thousands of users. Strong OSS/BSS capabilities now come into play here. Be open for new business models around advertising and freemium concepts.
The Networked Society concept has to be at the core of your TV offering. Leverage social media in every aspect of your service and build an ecosystem around your offering. Remember, the social ecosystem will drive traffic into your service, can be used for recommendation and monetization of your content by providing reach and the trust element. Once you have the traffic, your content spread and viewing experience is key in keeping your users attached to your offering.
Recently we’ve seen a lot of innovations to address how web based technology can come together with pay TV traditional technology. Ericsson is launching its Future TV Anywhere platform, bringing modern Web technologies to the TV operator world. This will enable operators to combine the quality of service and content depth of Pay TV with the interactivity and multi-screen capabilities of Over the Top (OTT) video start-ups. This platform for Pay TV service providers based entirely on web and cloud technologies, makes it possible for TV operators to quickly respond to a a changing marketplace, enabling the efficient deployment and scale of services, while accommodating the intense loads associated with live TV. In addition, the system uses analytics driven by big data, helping operators manage new investments quickly and cost-effectively.
Ericsson is well positioned in the TV area, thanks to our recent acquisitions of Mediaroom and Azuki Systems, decades of experience in video technology and the world’s most deployed IPTV platform. Ericsson’s unmatched TV and media portfolio also includes offerings such as advanced compression and state-of-the-art content delivery.
How will LTE change the way TV is consumed on the mobile network and what role can LTE Broadcast play?
LTE brings very high speed broadband IP to connected consumers and potentially in the future even to fixed scenarios through hybrid set top boxes. It’s engineered for video. By 2019, 65 per cent of the world population will be covered by LTE.
LTE enables broadcast of video content, similar to what users are used to on television. This was not possible with 3G. So essentially you can enable wireless broadcast services direct to an LTE enabled device. LTE Broadcast technology enables operators to provide subscribers with massive amounts of premium content simultaneously by offloading the capacity within the network using highly efficient data delivery.
With LTE broadcast, operators are also looking beyond just the consumer segment but exploring monetization options in the enterprise segments through services like digital signage, live events and emergency broadcast.
In late January this year Australia’s leading telecommunications provider Telstra successfully completed a live demonstration of Ericsson’s LTE Broadcast solution in a stadium environment. Three dedicated streams of content – live coverage, highlights and statistics – of the Australia vs England “T20” cricket match, were broadcast to participants.
By using a specially designed application and an LTE Broadcast-enabled device, participants were able to select the content of the most interest to them. This trial was recently recognized at the inaugural Telecoms.com Industry awards for ‘Pushing the Limits in mobile technology’. SingTel will also undertake a trial of our LTE Broadcast technology in the second half of the year to enhance the experience for the large number of Singapore consumers who use their mobile devices to view videos.
What are you most looking forward to regarding the Broadband Asia & TV Connect conference?
Our focus in attending the Broadband Asia and TV Connect conference this year is on the business and technological opportunities available to broadcasters and service providers in the mobile space. We are here to talk about the convergence of media and mobile networks enabled by mobility, broadband and cloud. That will create new opportunities for the telcos and the media industry to shape entertainment lives of consumers.
This event is more than just an elite networking opportunity; guests will be able to take part in a high-level program which offers strategic insight, knowledge and the tools with which to tackle the key questions facing our industry.
We are sponsoring this event because we recognize the importance of sharing our own unique industry insights into an extremely important phase in the dynamic world of television.
Gokula Krishnan Subramaniam has over 13 years of ICT and system integration experience in areas such as OSS, BSS, TV & Consulting. He spent the last seven years focused on the TV and media management technology areas and has held various leadership roles within this space with Ericsson, in North Africa, Middle East and currently in Asia. Prior to Ericsson, Gokula spent several years with Motorola Solutions, focused on R&D for the public safety & GSM Cellular groups. Gokula received his Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology with Honors from University Malaysia Sarawak in Malaysia.