Have you ever been unable to choose what to watch? You’re not alone. When it comes to TV decision-making, what used to be such a simple process has become increasingly time-consuming, and even sometimes a chore as the range of channels and content available to us has grown exponentially.
A few years ago, you had a handful of channels and schedules were dictated by the broadcasters. The opportunity to choose what to watch according to your interests and preferences – and at a time that suited you – was slim to none. All you had to do was lean back and enjoy the show.
Then more channels were quickly introduced. Different bundles of channels were created, and before long, viewers could subscribe to a selection of their favorite channels via à la carte packages. The result of this channel tsunami: more time wasted searching for something to watch.
But it didn’t stop there.
Netflix soon came along and transformed the world of on-demand content, providing viewers with an endless amount of content to watch whenever and wherever they want. But, with the rise of video streaming has come an endless amount of choice.
Is this the nirvana of television, or are audiences overwhelmed by the sheer volume of content available on today’s streaming services and unable to make decisions?
The Need for Personalization
With decision-making pressure at an all-time high, the onus is on providers to find ways to deliver a ‘lean-back’ viewing experience in today’s TV landscape – both in relation to live and on-demand content.
In the on-demand world of video streaming that relies on subscription-based models, the importance of suggesting relevant content that is tailored to viewers’ preferences and interests is clear.
This level of personalization – combined with any time, anywhere convenience – is what will win peoples’ attention and keep them coming back to the service.
This approach can also be applied to live content such as events. By extending the event with personally-curated content, broadcasters can provide additional value to viewers through a longer entertainment session while also ensuring a superior experience.
By creating virtual dynamic linear-type channels out of already transcoded and prepared video content, TV providers can deliver a lean-back curated experience that minimizes viewers’ decision-making while at the same time maximizing relevance and viewing time.
From personal and influencer-curated playlists to regional and thematic channels, these virtual dynamic channels offer many possibilities for providers that already have a strong catalog of content.
They can also provide several benefits. For example, the use of already transcoded content makes virtual dynamic channels a cost-efficient means of monetizing content and attracting viewers. Providers can generate hundreds of channels for a fraction of the cost compared to live 24/7 transcoding.
What’s more, the provider only incurs a cost when someone decides to watch something. As such, virtual dynamic channels – which can be created on the fly – offer a cost-effective way to distribute channels to a smaller audience compared to traditional distribution models.
Using virtual dynamic channels in this way has driven success for many free ad-supported streaming services (FAST), which aggregate multiple virtual channels, insert targeted advertising, and share the revenue with the content provider.
However, it must be done in the right way to properly engage viewers, which is where superior time management capabilities come into play.
Time Is Of The Essence
When creating curated channels, time management is a key consideration – particularly when live/linear feeds are involved. During the segmentation of incoming transport streams, the various video segments’ timestamps must be accurately aligned. This ensures ‘glitch-free viewing, as well as enabling content providers to insert ads (video-on-demand clips) into live steams without introducing glitches or discontinuities.
When combining content from various sources, providers must synchronize and align content without introducing ‘jumps’ in the timeline to provide the best possible viewer experience. This is especially important if the various live sources come from the same event/content.
Take a Formula One race as an example, where content comes from several different cameras placed around the track. If you want to ‘stitch’ together a channel from those sources, they must stay in sync or the cars will end up jumping around the track and the viewing experience will be impacted.
Ultimately, ensuring superior time management is vital for any provider looking to create personalised, regionalised or segmented channels that include any amount of live video. That might be a small amount every day – such as a news programme – or a sports event where the main event is live with on-demand content stitched in before and after.
As cord-cutting continues to accelerate around the world, content providers must embrace technology that allows for more innovative online TV services and provides the lean-back experience consumers are looking for.
The amount of choice in the TV landscape is higher than ever before, so curated channel playlists offer an opportunity to delight viewers and stand out from the crowd
Andy is the VP of Product Management, B2B at Agile Content – the leading provider of digital TV, OTT and video delivery solutions for media and telecom companies.
Over the last 20 years, Andy has held senior roles in ARRIS, Motorola, and Edgeware – driving the future of video and TV in both a sales, engineering, and product capacity. In this time, he has worked on many projects that have pushed the industry forward – from the early days of the evolution of digital cable TV and the growth of managed network IPTV, through to the emergence of internet-delivered OTT streaming video and TV services.
At Agile Content, Andy is responsible for applying the company’s in-house operator experience and expertise to the development of the next generation of TV technology products. With advanced integration, deployment, operational, and management capabilities, these end-to-end solutions will drive clear business benefits to the bottom line for Agile Content’s global customer base.