Streaming Services In Australia’s Crowded Market Need New Ways To Differentiate

Streaming Services In Australia’s Crowded Market Need New Ways To Differentiate
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In this guest post, Mike Hicks (pictured below), principal solutions architect at Cisco ThousandEyes, says online audiences are fragmented and unforgiving when it comes to bad streaming experiences; the key to profitability and survival is not to give them one…

Companies must stay relevant, connected and current, with audiences to be successful in media.

That is more challenging than ever. For one, the content market – and therefore the audience that consumes that content – is now more fragmented than ever.

Consider broadcast video consumption. Australians can choose from 22 different subscription video on demand (SVOD) services, outside of traditional TV   Traditional TV broadcast media run another five streaming options in the form of broadcast video on demand or BVOD services.

There are valid and still open questions around just how many gated and non-gated streaming services the market can bear.

When we look at the experience of linear Pay TV in Australia, it became unsustainable to offer dozens of channels broadcasting content simultaneously. Viewers only ever liked a handful of preferred channels, and by 2016 were choosing streaming services over Pay TV in greater numbers.

Streaming services have grown astronomically since. The latest numbers show Australia had 19.4 million SVOD subscriptions at the end of Q3 2021, an average of 3.5 services per household. “SVOD platforms accounted for around 70% of premium video streaming; BVOD platforms took 30%,” the research found.

To sustain online audience numbers or even think about growing their share and reach, streaming service providers – i.e. both SVOD and BVOD operators – need to focus on the way that content is delivered to viewers and the quality of the end-to-end service.

Partnerships with carriage service providers, content delivery networks (CDNs), digital monitoring and security service providers are more crucial than ever to manage the content delivery and viewing experience.

Streaming providers must dimension network and content delivery capacity and bandwidth for all possible viewing scenarios. Networks must be provisioned to handle not only today’s usage peaks but also be dynamically adjustable in the event potential issues arise in the end-to-end delivery mechanism and need to be mitigated to maintain performance for viewers.

All-encompassing visibility of all the elements and providers that make up this end-to-end content delivery mechanism is crucial. This kind of visibility, offered by the likes of ThousandEyes, provides actionable insights and intelligence to enable the operators of streaming services to run profitably by differentiating on quality-of-service and viewer experience.

It’s all about the network

When linear TV services dominated the world of video content, the operators of these services ran the entire end-to-end delivery and network infrastructure.

This era was characterised by very high uptime; if ever the TV went black, operators would be flooded with calls from viewers, with costs running into the tens of thousands in lost revenue for every minute they were off-air.

The internet turned that model on its head.

It substantially lowered cost barriers to entry, heralding the arrival of an ever-growing number of competing services. It opened video to a range of devices beyond a TV; video content now needs to be delivered across mobile and fixed-line networks, where the audience is.

But it also introduced complexity into the content delivery model: video providers must now stitch together a range of technology services and connectivity they do not own in order to reach their intended audience.

Even though they have far less control over the end-to-end delivery mechanism, they’re ultimately held responsible by consumers for how it performs. New generations of consumers are particularly unforgiving: one bad experience, and they will take their viewership elsewhere and not return.

Video content service providers have to find ways to make content delivery over the internet more reliable. They need insights to understand what their customers are doing; they need brand protection so that if some part of the chain suffers issues, they can route around it or communicate the issue quickly to customers; and they need ways to monetise their content by collecting data to serve the right advertising to viewers.

They can’t do all this by themselves. Instead, media operators need to closely partner with a range of technology and carriage service providers. Increasingly, it is those partnerships that will result in  differentiated viewing experiences that keep viewing audiences engaged.

Already in the cloud world, as-a-service application providers have agreements with carriage service providers to apply quality-of-service (QoS) prioritisation to their specific application traffic, improving the performance of those services for a nominal monthly fee.

We are likely to see similar arrangements develop in the streaming market, where deals struck with internet providers or backbone networks will ensure that streaming traffic gets to consumers faster. Consumers may eventually be offered several tiers of service, with a few extra dollars a month paid through their internet provider, buying a greatly enhanced streaming experience.

Streaming services that can negotiate these kinds of value-adds and alignment with internet providers. While maintaining effective oversight of how quality-of-service is delivered; are more likely to stand out and survive in the current market, because they can better prioritise the viewer and the viewing experience.

 

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Cisco ThousandEyes Mike Hicks

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