Srinivasan KA, Co-founder, Strategy, Business Development & Marketing, Amagi Media Labs
Interaction 2017, a recently published GroupM report has predicted that TV would retain 41 percent of the global advertising share in 2017. The figure stands out in stark contrast amidst predictions of an eminent VOD takeover. Why are advertisers willing to risk their money on TV? Premium content, and finer control over ad placement offered by traditional TV networks could be the reasons for advertisers to remain invested in TV. At the same time, TV networks need to address demand for more relevant, flexible programming among millennial viewers.
Challenge of Legacy Delivery Methods
Creating a personalized experience on linear feeds, with premium content could be the way ahead for TV networks. However, legacy delivery methods such as satellite and fiber are severely restrained to meet this need. Since cable operators could only deliver a fixed number of channels, customized delivery has never even been considered. Resource heavy nature of satellite and fiber models was also an impediment to delivery of personalized channels. With OTT delivery, these challenges have been largely eliminated, making way for the new, cloud-based broadcast infrastructure.
Dynamic Scalability of Cloud
Running thousands of personalized feeds requires dynamic scalability that could only be achieved with cloud. Using cloud, TV networks can instantly spin off new channels on the go, scaling up the on-demand infrastructure as required. With the capability to stream virtually unlimited number of channels, the playout infrastructure management becomes more complicated. Use of automation and software-driven approach is the logical next step.
Nextgen Channel Playout
Using deep-learning, and AI has unlocked potential of cloud-based playout platforms. Such AI powered playlists can potentially bundle channels as per the viewer's usage history like suggestions offered by Siri or Google Now cards. For example, a Game of Thrones fan could receive an HBO – Game of Thrones channel, with not just latest season, but also discussion, and onset action. Naturally, practical application of such playout requires rigorous due-diligence to ensure that privacy norms are not bypassed. As a next step of this process, the viewer himself could be involved in the process of playlist creation. This could enable the viewers to not only select the commentary, but also camera angles, or even user generated live streams coming from audiences in stadium. These developments in content delivery will doubtlessly also impact the video-monetization industry.
Implications of Personalized Content for User and Advertisers
Even today, the most coveted ad-spots on TV remain the ones that fall under prime-time, or during top-rated shows in India as per the BARC data, such as Kumkum Bhagya, or Ishqbaaz. However, with personalized linear feeds, the concept of prime-time itself could undergo a transformation. The prime-time shows for each viewer could be remarkably different, allowing the TV network to monetize their content inventory more effectively. Cloud can help with the functional challenge of managing these personal prime-times. Ads can be stored on cloud, and dynamically inserted in the personalized feed using an automated, software-driven workflow. Using cloud can also help in modifying the content itself for better monetization. For example, all live content can be recorded, and pushed through an AI powered video analytics engine to populate VOD packages such as sports highlights.
As personalized linear feeds become a reality it may open other ad revenue sources such as individually targeted ads for the TV networks. Today TV operators such as Tata Sky offer their viewers the freedom to pick and choose individual channels to create a monthly package. However, with personalized feeds, the viewers may have the ultimate control, and may even create their own channel that can be watched by the entire family. These and other broadcast innovations possible with cloud technology are an exciting prospect, mainly because the technology already exists in the real world.