The Emergence of Multi-Screen Content Services: A Path Toward Monetization

At present, treatment
in the US, there exists a delicate balance by TV programmers between satisfying MSOs (Multi-System Operators) with exclusive content and growing revenues via multi-screen OTT (Over-The-Top) initiatives. With the majority of revenues for TV programmers generated through MSOs, new models for OTT monetization needs to be developed that do not jeopardize this traditional subscription revenue stream. The growing use of mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones in consuming content can potentially provide such new models which may lay the groundwork for OTT monetization.

Elemental Live: A live-to-internet distribution system enabling new multi-screen over-the-top initiatives.

One path for co-existence of multi-screen OTT with MSO delivered content is by simulcast or re-broadcast of MSO content. The current approach utilizes authenticating OTT service with a user’s cable subscription information (i.e. username, password). Interestingly, some TV programmers (e.g. WatchESPN) can extract additional affiliate fees from the MSOs by providing this mobile access to MSO subscribers. Another revenue source here is of course in providing advertising to mobile users. If programmers are able to extract mobile user preferences and behaviors, they can then deliver targeted digital media campaigns. With the use of “UDID independent” conversion tracking tools combined with audience insights from data management platforms (DMP), a detailed hierarchy of behaviors, actions, and demographics to product categories can be realized resulting in a more profitable advertising model.

The next aspect of enhancing OTT monetization is through content personalization. By linking a DMP to a content management system (CMS), personalized content that is suited to the user’s preferences (or location) can be delivered. This fosters user loyalty resulting in increased ad inventory levels for monetization. Location can also be used as criteria to personalize content. By enabling location tracking on a mobile device and classifying the type of location through the use of artificial intelligence software, content suited to the location can be delivered. For example, if one is attending a football game, content relevant to the venue, the specific players, and/or the teams that are participating in the specific game can be delivered. An additional feature to enhance the location based content personalization is the use of social networking (e.g. Twitter, Facebook). For example, Twitter and Facebook feeds from your friends watching the game can be streamed along with the game. As you can see, there exists a multiplicity of methods for monetizing content personalization.

The other aspect to OTT monetization is the cost effective delivery of multi-screen services. Technology advances in delivering high quality content in terms of formatting, transcoding, and adaptive bit rate streaming, and ad insertion protocols (SCTE 35, SCTE 104) are key to realizing these types of services. A couple of companies which are involved in realizing these technologies are Elemental and Sync TV / Harmonic. For example, Elemental’s solution for Eurosport’s live-to-Internet distribution feeds for multiple countries with large numbers of streams that incorporate parallel processing and reduced server footprint is a step in the direction for cost effective solutions.

Will these approaches enable a paradigm shift in multi-screen content services? Certainly, as the content consumption of users migrates towards mobile devices, especially with the growing use of tablets, a solution that is cost effective and high quality (e.g. QoS) in the home and away will be demanded by the consumer.