Opinion: The Data Game

Dr Hui Zhang
July 31st 2015 at 10:49AM


Dr. Hui Zhang, co-founder and chief executive at Conviva, explains how data driven intelligence can empower TV providers

Engaging content – supported by smart programming and promotions – used to be the only ingredients necessary for a great linear TV experience, whether delivered via over-the-air, cable, or satellite. That recipe has changed with the introduction of OTT services. 

Historically, the more engaging content would succeed – as long as it was available – because there was a level playing field in delivery of that content. Therefore, if you had great content, it would then follow that your service would enjoy success. What defined its resonance with consumers was simply how good it was. Alas, TV is no longer so uniform or meritocratic.

The shared, often unpredictable, pipes of the Internet are creating significant challenges

The OTT landscape – inherently inconsistent due to the vagaries of the Internet – has changed the playing field, and success now is contingent on far more than whether you’ve got the most compelling content.

There’s no point in having a blockbuster like Game of Thrones or House of Cards if viewers can’t access it or have difficulties streaming the content. A vast sum of money is invested in content development, so success now hinges on whether you’ve got that great content and can provide seamless, broadcast quality streaming experiences.

Complex delivery

The complexity of delivering a consistently great video service has a far greater impact than ever before: devices are proliferating, bandwidth variability between providers is difficult to predict accurately, and preferences for larger screens continue to increase.

The shared, often unpredictable, pipes of the Internet are creating significant challenges for publishers in delivering the perfect experience. And now, that perfection is vital. Consumers expect seamless, interruption-free viewing.  In today’s era of ubiquitous choice and low switching costs, they have no qualms about moving on to something new very quickly and this desertion can prove damaging to a provider’s bottom line.

Achieving success in today’s increasingly fragmented TV landscape is a complex proposition. There needs to be a concerted shift in how we approach TV, clearly defined by a fundamentally data-driven approach which can shape and inform the critical business decisions behind developing content and the methods of delivering it.  

Having a 360 degree view over the entire ecosystem allows providers to understand the factors that are contributing to their successes, but just as important, it provides a birds-eye view on what’s not going so right in both the content and the delivery of that content.

Open and mature

We’re seeing that providers are experimenting with a much more open, mature attitude to content, which can only be beneficial.

As content owners follow the path of HBO Now, they will need to syndicate their experience: have others sell their OTT content for a cut of the profits. This enables them to see exactly what people are watching, where, when, on what devices and on which service.

Rather than relying on guesstimates and surveys, as has long been the industry standard, providers who are looking to syndicate the experience benefit from vastly enhanced visibility. This opens up a wealth of opportunities for syndication partners; content owners will be able to see those that have shown they are delivering great experiences and reward accordingly.

If we can crack the code with high quality content and consistent delivery to a clearly measurable audience base, the dollars will follow

This serves to take uncertainty out of the equation for the content owner, and puts an impetus on delivery partners to provide the best quality experience. The end result is consumers end up happy and well-served, which is a win-win all around.

By using the data gathered across all partners, content owners can pre-emptively make critical business decisions in real time, effectively creating a closed loop. This type of model enables the content owners to take control and manage every aspect of their content environment.

Yes, content is still king, but syndication and delivery is queen, and visibility and control need to be a fundamental component of every provider’s strategy. Adopting a data-driven approach will empower providers, allowing them to rapidly adapt to the shifting landscape and make smart business decisions.

If we can crack the code with high quality content and consistent delivery to a clearly measurable audience base, the dollars will follow.