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How to Stay Ahead in Today’s Unprecedented Media & Entertainment Landscape

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Nobody would have imagined the present-day media and entertainment (M&E) scenario as the new decade launched in a flurry of fireworks. Today, we are past the half-year mark, and everybody is plainly aware of the impact of an almost worldwide stay at home order. We have seen a substantial rise in video and data consumption exacerbated by the forced changes with respect to live events and new show and movie creation. The opening of paywalls, removal of data caps, and in some cases, access to more premium content and archival gems has seen the market react in a variety of ways. Manufacturing moved from STBs, TVs, and ISDs to ventilators and masks. Getting back to normal will not be binary. The effect has short-term implications and will also have much longer lasting disruption. What we are cognizant of is that M&E is still the cornerstone of communication across the globe, and we must be thankful that we are able to continue to deliver and offer the world our valuable products.

However, when it comes to addressing the ongoing demands and evolution taking place, those who ultimately succeed are the ones taking proactive steps to look carefully at the macro- and micro-economics of their unique situations, while understanding, adapting, and staying ahead of this very unique situation. 

From traditional pay TV players to OTT streaming services, studios, and sports rights owners, each have their own challenges and there are matters that have to be addressed from aggregating, distributing, protecting and monetizing content. With a greater understanding of the shifting dynamics and threat areas, better business decisions can be made. It is time to consider the key factors industry players should addressa as they develop the right business strategy and execution moving forward.

Comprehensive Digital Security for the New Connected World

The increased number of devices connecting anytime and anywhere to various services creates a new daunting reality—attacks are going beyond just content and now include personal data and consumer privacy. A scalable approach that delivers active streaming protection to provide operators with the ability to select key capabilities based on the direct threats to their service in needed. Delivering scale across operations of different sizes, active streaming protection provides online trial options, affords operators the benefit of a highly modular ‘pick and mix’ strategy and leverages adaptive security for optimal performance across a vast client device ecosystem.

Evolution of the Piracy Landscape

We know a holistic approach combining content protection technologies (i.e. conditional access, DRM, and forensic watermarking), combined with anti-piracy services (i.e. investigations and legal actions) is effective in putting a stop to illegitimate streaming of premium content. With the right tools in place, sports rights holders, content owners and service providers can leverage advanced detection, real-time monitoring and takedown services, strategic and legal counsel, as well as deep global intelligence and local expertise to disrupting today’s piracy ecosystem. To add to this, we can also expect enhanced and highly effective anti-piracy solutions in areas such as automated content recognition, network monitoring, IP blocking, and other advanced technical countermeasures to be important conversation points. 

A New Approach to Content Aggregation in a DTC World

As more content owners launch their own direct-to-consumer (DTC) offerings and advertising-based video on demand (AVOD) players are being bought by large media giants, it’s becoming a very fragmented landscape for the user. As existing aggregators of content, operators have the opportunity to offer more efficient and scaled services while bundling offerings to adapt to the modern consumer’s needs. The good news is that many pay TV operators have already aggregated OTT apps, and the move to include a variety of key VOD, SVOD and AVOD services is already well underway. Leveraging smartly integrated apps, operators can place everything under one accessible and user-friendly umbrella. And, for some, leading client device ecosystems such as Android TV have already proven to be a go-to solution, enabling them to deliver operator-tier branded UEX, Google TV services, direct carrier billing and more. 

Sports OTT—Suffering in Silence

Sports has probably taken the biggest hit in these times, and many OTT offers have had to revert to ensuring customers still get value for money or receive refunds. To address this issue, the pay TV industry is focusing on new business models, as well as effective strategies for fan engagement in sports content. Some sports have had the luxury of being able to switch to compelling esports offers to bridge the gap between empty venues and back to normal. This is not the case for all sports. Therefore, while there will be continued growth in OTT for years to come, the industry is still coming to terms with where the market will settle. If all the pieces are put together correctly, operators and content owners will be able to maintain their consumer reach via great content and service packages to stay relevant. They can show customers that they understand the market and that they can deliver the great viewing experience that the modern consumer expects.

AI-Driven Actionable Analytics Designed Specifically for Pay TV 

In an era of leveraging data and analytics in real time, pay-TV is actively putting in the work. Whether sales, marketing, customer service, content buying or anti-piracy teams—there are distinctive silos within an organization that traditionally keep data sources separate. This siloed approach makes the data virtually useless from a strategic business perspective. Luckily, there are AI-driven business performance platforms that are designed by pay-TV experts and specifically for the pay-TV industry. Platforms like this arm operators with the right recommendations on business actions to help them make better strategic decisions—across various line of business—to effectively improve their bottom line.

The Industry Move to "All-IP"

Delivering premium services directly to consumer devices and leveraging back-end cloud infrastructure is essential to the next generation of content delivery via IP networks to consumers. Unfortunately, the road to all-IP is not clear. The increase in the number of devices demanding high-bandwidth access either over-the-air or to streaming services via mobile (i.e. ATSC 3.0, 5G and Low Earth Orbit (LEO) Satellites), plus an elevated use of virtualization and the cloud, equates to many more security threats across a broader, multifaceted attack surface, as well distribution challenges. How can you best leverage the cloud? And, how do you ensure security?

A laser focus on security alongside effective cloud migration will be key moving forward. Pay TV service providers can look to rationalize architectures (and by consequence lower overheads) by selecting a scalable, modular, cloud-based solution to unify all aspects of their service protection needs—regardless of which network or device they’re delivering content.

New Consumer-Focused Business Models

Industry executives expect traditional pay TV packages to be radically re-structured moving forward into the new landscape. Service providers will have to experiment with packages that cater to the unique needs and behaviors of all customers, including cord cutters and the younger generations. Understanding consumer preferences will be essential to creating the successful pay TV packages of the future and new pay TV aggregation models will have to reflect consumer appetite for more efficient, rather than unnecessarily bloated, bundles. To that end, the new normal in the land of M&E will require adaptability, flexibility, creativity, and an approach that is totally consumer-focused. 

(Editor's note: This is a contributed byline from NAGRA. Streaming Media accepts vendor bylines based solely on their value to our readers.)

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