Jonathan Guthrie Issue: Asia-Pacific II 2015
Article no.: 9
Topic: Making pay-TV profitable in Asia Pacific
Author: Jonathan Guthrie
Title: CEO
Organisation: Paywizard
PDF size: 392KB

About author

Jonathan Guthrie, Co-founder and Chief Executive, Paywizard.

Prior to founding the company, Jonathan worked for BSkyB for eight years, from 1992 as Head of Finance and Deputy General Manager of BSkyB’s subscriber management centres. Previously with Ernst and Young, Jonathan qualified as a chartered accountant in 1986.

Article abstract

How do pay-TV operators get to grips with their audience? The answer is through actionable insight. Having access to relevant and marketable subscriber data means pay-TV operators can fully understand their audience and launch targeted campaigns based on what they are watching, when they are watching, and how they are watching it. This not only helps to attract new subscribers, it also helps retain and up-sell existing ones.  

Full Article

The explosion of video enabled, internet connected devices means that today, the global pay-TV market is changing. The Asia Pacific (APAC) pay-TV market in particular, is undergoing a rapid period of evolution. Research from Media Partners Asia shows that TV everywhere subscribers are expected to grow from four million to around 15 million over the next five years. And as multiscreen grows across the region, the APAC market is looking to Europe to determine its future, and answer a number of fundamental questions: How do we successfully extend our services and manage the growing number of subscribers? And how do we create services that are personal, and most importantly, profitable? The answer is an expert subscriber management system.

Whether pay-TV operators are growing their traditional TV business or launching a new OTT service, they need to be able to deliver their content across multiple devices. But many operators are recognising that delivering a true multi-device service is difficult – and one of the main reasons for this is the complexity of navigating different screens. The stark difference between the endless number of devices means that simple tasks such as signing up subscribers is proving to be a major challenge. Yet being able to sign up for services, validate billing and take payment is at the heart of any multi-device strategy. In order to successfully extend TV services across multiscreen, pay-TV operators must have a subscriber management system that has an understanding of the device profile, user authentication practices, as well as be able to take payment across a diverse range of methods if they want to create profitable TV everywhere services.

Operators need to be able to get their services out to the widest paying audience if they want to drive revenues, and that means being able to deliver services across as many distribution methods as possible. A platform interoperability strategy allows companies to streamline operational processes and use a range of delivery methods to reach a wide audience. But integrating various delivery and payment platforms to ensure content flows across owned and partner channels in a seamless and chargeable fashion is not easy. A subscriber management system must act as a bridge between different technology platforms, and enable elements such as subscriber sign up, billing and payment to be agnostic of underlying technology restrictions. Having an easy to deploy subscriber management system that is pre-integrated with conditional access systems, video delivery and payment platforms ensures operators can get to market fast and eliminate costly or bespoke development.

The ability to support payments anytime and anywhere is another essential requirement to create a profitable pay-TV service. However there are a number of significant issues around payment validation and processing to overcome; especially when services cross country borders or regional territories. Around the world there are a number of stark differences in payment preferences and pay-TV operators need to understand their market dynamics as well as subscriber behaviour. For example, across Europe it is the norm to use credit and debit cards to pay for services. But in Asia, using vouchers for over the counter cash payments for services is incredibly popular. In order to support this, a pay-TV operator will be required to interface with several highly bespoke Point of Sale (PoS) terminal service providers across the region to make this happen.

Therefore pay-TV services must offer a range of payment methods, including pre and post pay models, credit and debit card processing, direct debits, and local payment options. Operators should also think about mobile phone integration and cash economy options powered by vouchers and branded e-Wallets like PayPal. The subscriber,, who is signing up to a service via an app or web browser, should have no idea of the complexity behind making payments. The user interface will ask simple validation questions and at a click of the button, they will be connected to a world of content.

But extending services and enabling subscribers to sign up and pay for their favourite TV shows, movies and sporting events is only one piece of the TV everywhere puzzle. Today, with more companies offering pay-TV services across multiscreen, companies need to be able to target audiences to grow subscriber interaction and drive revenues.

If pay-TV operators are able to become familiar with their subscribers, and understand exactly how they are consuming content, they can use that knowledge to deliver services that subscribers want, enjoy and ultimately, are happy to pay for. And being able to fully understand your audience will do more than just boost profits. It will help to increase customer lifetime value, ARPU and customer satisfaction, whilst also decreasing churn rate.

So how do pay-TV operators get to grips with their audience? The answer is through actionable insight. Having access to relevant and marketable subscriber data means pay-TV operators can fully understand their audience and launch targeted campaigns based on what they are watching, when they are watching, and how they are watching it. This not only helps to attract new subscribers, it also helps retain and up-sell existing ones.

It is for these reasons that operators should implement a data strategy covering acquisition, retention and churn management. By collecting and analysing data, pay-TV operators can understand subscriber behaviour across each platform, enabling them to effectively market by upselling and cross-selling products, ensuring they retain subscribers, reducing churn and boosting profits at the same time.

Adopting a cloud-based model can also lead to significant and often uptapped monetisation opportunities. The cloud is helping to simplify subscriber management and billing that has traditionally proven to be complex and expensive to do in-house. And there are a number of reasons for this; not only does a SaaS based delivery model offer a significant reduction in timescales for systems integration, set up, configuration and storage costs, but it also reduces the requirement for ongoing maintenance and operational support resource.

But regardless of whether a subscriber management system is deployed in-house or utilises the benefits of the cloud, it is important to have tailored services that support this system. Having tailored services, run by pay-TV experts, will ensure that you drive revenues throughout the customer lifecycle and overcome any challenges. Whether seeking simple advice or the complete design and deployment of a project; it is crucial to ensure a services team is incorporated, that can build and deliver revenue-boosting techniques that continuously improve the pay-TV service.

So today, subscriber management is playing a vital role in the TV everywhere landscape, and pay-TV operators in APAC need to have a system that will ensure they prosper in the competitive market. Being able to drive revenue opportunities, keep subscribers engaged and loyal and coming back for more, will ultimately ensure operators profit from pay-TV.