|Topic:||The Networked Society: Driving the Multiscreen TV Experience|
|Title:||Vice President and Head of Solution Area TV|
Staffan Pehrson is Head of Solutions Area TV at Ericsson, having been appointed President of TANDBERG Television in April 2009, which is now part of Ericsson. He joined Ericsson in 1993. Prior to this appointment Staffan was EVP of Ericsson, Inc. in North America, where he oversaw sales, development, operations and support for a major telecommunications customer. Previously, Staffan was President of Ericsson Hungary, with responsibility for overall business and country operations within Hungary, Macedonia and Montenegro. Prior to his term in Hungary, Staffan was the General Manager of Ericsson’s product area of Mobile Internet Enablers.
Staffan holds an Executive MBA from Stockholm School of Economics as well as a Master of Science in systems engineering from Case Western Reserve University in the US. He also holds a Master of Science in engineering physics from Uppsala University in Sweden.
The multi-screen proposition addresses single users with multiple devices or family groups sharing content between the members. They all want a personalised but consistent TV experience. Today, the consumer receives content via different sources, all managed differently, duplicating functions like meta-data storage and service billing. A holistic approach to multiscreen TV can solve these issues. A unified system that is both platform agnostic and network agnostic, that can manage web-sourced TV as well as other content is best delivered by existing TV service providers. While a mobile TV services is hard to monetise on its own, the TV service providers can bundle such services, with increased security and quality, and steal a march on their competition.
The key driver of the Networked Society is consumer demand for multimedia anywhere, anyplace, and any way they want it. The Networked Society is the result of mobility, broadband and cloud computing coming together and becoming relevant to users. Ericsson predicts that by 2020 there will be 50 billion connected devices globally. Of these, more than 15 billion are expected to be video enabled. On that foundation, applications and video services can be easily set up and maintained in the cloud.
Ericsson ConsumerLab research shows that people are watching more video content on devices such as smartphones and tablets, but 93 per cent of people surveyed still watch broadcast TV at home. The opportunity to bring relevant solutions to viewers is greater than ever. Informa Telecoms & Media (2011) predicts that by 2015, video will account for over 50 per cent of all internet traffic, and in addition, 50 per cent of UK internet users will watch online video via a connected home device. Pointedly, it states that in four years’ time, High Definition (HD) video will account for more traffic than Standard Definition (SD). These figures reveal a challenge that can only be solved with networks that are smart, scalable and give superior performance.
The demand from consumers for higher quality, greater choice and flexibility of when and where they watch video is presenting a number of challenges. The pressure is on for content creators, service providers, and technology partners alike, but collaboration, and connected creativity, will increase the chances for success.
As the consumer’s desire shapes today’s television into an interactive, multiscreen experience, more content to more devices than ever are driving up video traffic volumes and putting increased bandwidth pressures on networks. This combined demand of video content, network devices and bandwidth and wide consumers’ choice present new challenges to operators. Issues arise in the acquisition and processing of high quality content, and also in the rollout of infrastructure and the delivery of large volumes of video, media and audio across multiple platforms to multiple devices.
Broadcast and broadband convergence: new opportunities
Over the last decade, Pay-TV platform operators across Europe have adapted their technologies and business models to incorporate digital TV, interactivity, video on-demand, HDTV and now, increasingly, 3D TV. Not surprisingly, most of these innovations have been focused on the home television set – which is where the TV industry has traditionally made its living. The changes during the next ten years will be equally exciting – and possibly even more significant. This is because television delivery is converging over fixed and mobile broadband networks, blending entertainment and communications into a cohesive service. Viewers will be offered Internet sourced video alongside traditional television and VOD as part of an increasingly personalised TV experience.
Advances in screen and graphics technologies, combined with the increasing ubiquity of broadband access, means that many devices now exist in consumers’ homes, offices, cars, pockets and purses which are capable of displaying TV pictures. Increasingly, those consumers will also expect to be able to purchase and view TV content in a consistent and seamless manner as they move between these different devices.
A compelling connected experience across multiple devices
In an ideal connected world, consumers will only have to pay once for content and watch it in multiple locations. They should enjoy the convenience of a single bill for all their video usage with an offering of a single point of authentication and a common user ID that gives them near-instant access to video services across all screens without having to go through onerous log-in procedures.
Ericsson‘s concept of a connected world is one in which different devices are used in their most optimal way, whatever the functionality, but they are all connected to one another. A family living in a connected home will be able to find content on the PC, watch that same content on their television. The family members could pause the session, and (using intelligent bookmarks) resume playback on their mobile device when they leave their house. They may also access social networks to discuss and share their favourite content. The whole experience is designed to be individual and customisable to the consumer’s needs.
Irrespective of their heritage, TV service providers can deliver a TV experience that spans multiple screens far more efficiently than one that consumers could create for themselves using multiple video sources. By harnessing their industry insight and exploiting new technology platforms, they can quickly introduce unified multiscreen TV services to provide better content than rivals can. They can deliver integrated, yet secure, access to paid-for content across all screen environments. They can enable the seamless transfer of video sessions between different devices and, when appropriate, different users, through shared preferences and recommendations. Crucially, they can provide centralised account management and common user sign-on facilities.
A unified multiscreen TV service, however, requires an integrated multiscreen TV solution. There must also be a common service management and delivery infrastructure for television capable of handling very different types of access, display and control environments. At the same time, it must be recognised that each TV service provider will have their own legacy architectures to work alongside or integrate, their own business workflows and partnerships with third party content owners and advertisers to support, and their own need to comply with regulatory regimes.
Challenges: The need for a unified delivery system
Today, the majority of TV service providers in Europe generally use different platforms to service TV, web and mobile users, each providing distinct functional needs and each set in their own technology and management silos. These functions include content workflow automation, metadata management, DRM, device management, offer management and content asset management. Duplicating these functions for each video service and platform is inefficient and it prevents the integration needed to provide seamless multiscreen entertainment.
Service providers must therefore instead look towards growing a single system that can be responsible eventually for delivering content to all screens – one that is both platform agnostic and network agnostic. It needs to be flexible, extensible and centrally accessible. While unifying the way services that are managed physically, it must also be sensitive to the organisational realities within each individual TV service provider. Traditionally, one group might be responsible for managing VOD on television and another responsible for managing on-demand services to the web and mobile.
Any solution must recognise these legacy frameworks and, for the time being at least, be able to provide a supporting and coordinating role between them, sharing assets, functions and management tools across the different departments while minimising total operational and capital costs. Only under a unifying framework based on open standards can financial and reputational risk be managed effectively and the necessary corporate agility maintained in what is a still uncertain world.
The building blocks for success
Today, TV service providers across the EMEA region are starting from a position of considerable strategic strength and should be confident about their prospects of turning these emerging consumer desires into business opportunities. After all, multiscreen TV is still, ultimately, television and content is still king. For the time being at least, these TV service providers have access to the best, premium content through established relationships with the major content producers and owners as well as an ability to nurture and expose new talent and they can continue to leverage these relationships across different screen environments.
As a further advantage to be exploited, television still remains the screen of choice for the vast majority of consumers today. As a result, TV service providers can use their presence in the home to cross-promote multiscreen TV services while they develop the rest of their three-screen offering. In addition, standalone web and mobile services have proved difficult to monetise for new entrants in the video business, but TV service providers already have established revenue streams and are well placed to bundle multiscreen TV as part of a wider subscription service.
TV service providers are therefore clearly capable of dominating this emerging marketplace, placing themselves once again at the centre of the increasingly complex, multimedia-rich lives that their customers are adopting. They can harness their unique strengths to define in practical terms what multiscreen TV means and, in particular, by setting the highest possible entry standards in quality of content and user experience, they can also block out new competitors before they get a foothold in the market. Their overall strategy should be to create a much more holistic, unified service experience based on the consumer insight, commercial partnerships and technology integration strengths that only a TV service provider can deliver.