For Pay TV operators who have yet to deploy OTT and multiscreen solutions, the time is coming when their subscribers will start looking over the shoulder of their friends and wondering why they cannot also get their live channels on handheld devices, and have access to a library of catch-up and on-demand content anywhere. Maybe it is their kids who will come home from a sleepover to relate the glories of watching three episodes of their favourite show on-demand, in the bedroom on a laptop. Being a late adopter is okay, but there comes a point in every adoption cycle when the have-nots start to feel like they are missing out.
It was the platform operators with these kinds of subscribers that Conax was reaching out to at IBC with its promise of a pay-as-you-grow model for launching secure multiscreen services. As Tom Jahr, EVP Products & Partners at Conax, noted: “The real worry and challenge for these operators is to take OTT and make it profitable. They know that by adding OTT and multiscreen they will tackle churn and keep subscribers. It is hugely important to them, but up until now they could not afford to make the big investment required to launch these services.”
The problem for this category of operator, which is going to make up the second wave of multiscreen adoption, is not one of business justification. Even putting churn aside for one moment, they are just as capable of monetizing multiscreen from their subscriber base as the big platform operators who have already launched, Jahr argues. The problem is finding the money upfront to deploy, something that makes OTT/multiscreen an investment risk. Conax was keen to stress that consumer behaviour among the subscriber populations of these yet-to-launch operators is no different to anywhere else. They want multiscreen the same as other people. The limiting factor is the investment environment that smaller operators find themselves in.
The answer is to lower the investment threshold and remove a good deal of the risk from launching multiscreen TV. This is what Conax is trying to do with its increasing focus on modularity and flexible business models. At IBC the company announced that operators deploying with its portfolio of pre-integrated multiscreen solutions, including its multi-DRM backoffice, client apps and content security of various kinds, can buy licenses in 5,000 subscriber blocks. So upfront you invest what you need to support 5,000 multiscreen customers and the license fees increase as you add more.
Conax also revealed some important additions to its portfolio, not least Conax GO Live, designed for operators that want to secure live channels that are streamed to iOS and Android devices. This was accompanied by Conax OTT Access, a secure OTT client for the same operating systems. OTT Access is designed for non-premium content and free-to-air channels. This is viewed as a way to get a ‘multiscreen essentials’ service up and running quickly and cost-effectively. As operators need higher security requirements they can upgrade to the Conax hardened PlayReady Client, as these two security clients are interchangeable. Like other Conax solutions, streaming to these handhelds falls under the umbrella management of the Conax Contego security hub.
The new modular and PAYG approach means an operator can cherry-pick the kind of service offer they want to give subscribers, selecting from features like live TV, start-over, catch-up, nPVR and VOD. These can be integrated with the broadcast offering to create a unified experience. Operators then choose their device platforms, supported by Conax security clients, including STBs, CAMs, tablets and smartphones (iOS or Android), PCs, Macs and Smart TVs. Security options include smartcards, cardless, hardened PlayReady and the new Conax OTT Access.
Jahr believes the impact of this modular approach and the PAYG business models will be that more operators “jump off the fence” and make the decision to deploy OTT and multiscreen services. With lower initial investment requirements, he expects to see smaller platform operators “go for it” over the next year or two. The first deployment based on this new modular PAYG approach will be this year, Conax reports.