The Net Effect:
Evolving Landscapes on What We Used to Call Television Encouraging Investors

A net effect imageCable is the new cinema. Or so AMC’s CEO Josh Sapan says in this issue of Cable News when talking about TV’s second golden age which many attribute to long-arc shows that define modern TV today. But Sapan calling cable TV the new cinema is more than just pithy CEO talk. It is shorthand for an evolution in how people watch television and connect to the internet.

TV: Hey, We’re Trending!
Consumers are also using a second connected device when watching the long-burning plots that have come to define the television landscape of today. A recent study by Ericsson ConsumerLab tells us that 75% of people multi-task by using mobile devices while watching TV. It’s not hard to guess why Twitter is testing “TV trending”, has teamed up with Neilsen for Nielsen Twitter TV rating and even acquired a social TV analytics firm earlier in the year. It’s easy to make stats sing the right tune but at the same time, it’s impossible to not spot the trend when considering that the number of connected TVs in Europe has exploded by over 120% in the last year according to IHS (see the back page for more detail).

Are you experienced?
Cable industry leaders like to refer to the melded TV/internet offering as an “experience” given the reworking of what was once a mono-directional broadcast into a viewer’s home that has now evolved with the consumer at the centre. Holding the remote control these days means holding a lot more power than even just ten years ago – the viewer can decide when and on which device they want to watch whatever they want. TVs are smarter and they have to be given the increased sophistication of the cable consumer.

Time-shifting, Place-shifting
Companies like Liberty Global, Com Hem, ONO, Ziggo, Virgin Media and Kabel Deutschland are building offerings around the consumer’s evolving habits and are already serving up now what the consumer wants. The game changer in all of this, no surprise, is the internet. While the music industry got it wrong with its death grip on content, the TV chiefs understood that an open hand providing content easily over its trusted platform was the way to make the experience easier.

The Real World
Examples don’t get more real or more demonstrative for the consumer than Horizon. Liberty Global’s connected TV service is on the market for cable subscribers and is a reminder of how quickly TV is evolving – and how much the TV experience is blended with a good internet connection. The Horizon box can simultaneously record up to four high definition channels, it accesses the web for further content and weaves together linear and on-demand content for what is truly a unified user experience. Horizon users can also access their own photos and videos and link up to favorite apps and social media such as Facebook and Twitter. They can also view content on phones and tablets. Liberty Global’s Mike Fries recently said that cable can “learn from companies like Netflix, what Netflix has taught us is not the content, but how that is presented to the consumer and we can incorporate all of that because we have the better content” and referred to the OTT providers as a “ movie channel rather than a competing product.”

Not Just a Pretty Interface
The trend of innovation in how we capture and view keeps cable consumers more in control of their digital destiny. Portuguese cable operator ZON Optimus has won awards this year for its TV on the move service while Spain’s ONO has chosen the TiVo platform to bring together content for consumers. And this year, Dutch cable operator, Ziggo, became the first cable operator in the world to provide interactive services without built-in hardware. Ziggo CEO Bernard Dijkhuizen, said, “We proudly introduced the first fully cloud-based interactive TV service – DVB-C based – in the world. It’s IP-based interactivity which is connecting that customer to the cloud-based set-top box solution while at the same time using that very pleasant easy to use graphical user interface. This is now enabling our customers to all of a sudden have interactive functionality in the traditional box which they already have.”

Another cable first came out of Sweden as Com Hem emerged as the first cable operator to use TiVo in an IPTV environment. In case you’re wondering what it would be like to watch TV through an IPTV box, you can rely on the characteristic transparence of the Swedes as they actually asked consumers to blog the experience on Com Hem’s website. Talk about progressive.

Source: Cable News Autumn Page 3

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