The on-demand opportunity

The on-demand opportunity
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We will all watch TV on the internet one day and, judging from the recent OzTam report on multi-screen viewership, this is the new reality.

More than a quarter (27%) of Australian homes now have access to four screens – TVs, computers, tablets and smartphones that allow them to consume content. Of these four, tablet devices alone are rapidly becoming the preferred screen of choice for online video with users spending an average of 50 minutes per month watching online video on tablets.

The adoption of multi-screen viewership is creating a significant opportunity for broadcasters, content producers and marketers to rethink how they can deliver content across platforms to fuel audience growth. By investing in media delivery services, broadcasters have been able to adapt to shifting viewership patterns and provide the convenience of letting viewers watch scheduled TV programs on demand. Catch-up TV has allowed broadcasters the flexibility of responding to viewer demands through content delivery through PC and mobile devices on-demand.

Australia has already demonstrated its affinity with catch-up TV with major broadcasters such as ABC, SBS, Foxtel and Seven providing such platforms to their viewers. Most recently, Foxtel increased the number of devices subscribers can use to access its Foxtel Go service and expanded the range of devices it supports on its app across a range of Apple and Samsung devices. The bottom line is that the demand for content is growing at a better-than-healthy rate, and that the proliferation of new devices and platforms presents more opportunities for the industry than challenges.

What broadcasters and content service providers can develop from the shift towards multi-screen programming is the ability to harness the new rivers of consumer data that it provides. This shift towards ‘anywhere, anytime’ entertainment brings with it a host of data about consumers, and about their behaviour. If broadcasters and content service providers can understand and tap into the ongoing and sweeping changes to consumer behaviour, then the hugely increased demand for rich media content will far outweigh the challenges associated with its delivery.

The latest Australian Entertainment and Media Outlook report from consulting house PwC paints a picture of an industry that is not only fast growing, but leaving a large digital footprint of valuable data as it grows. PwC says smart businesses will create a competitive edge through innovation and by turning this freshly available data into targeted consumer offerings.

The increase in uptake of smartphones and tablets, affordability of broadband and the improvement in mobile broadband speeds in Australia’s capital cities is driving the demand for catch-up TV. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were more than 1.3 million new subscribers connected to the internet via DSL, cable, satellite, fixed wireless or mobile wireless between 2011 and 2012. That’s 1.3 million new subscribers in a year. During a 12-month period, the total data downloads in Australia grew by 51% – from 274,000 terabytes to more than 415,000 terabytes in a year. And this is a spectacular download growth rate that it showing no sign of slowing down, as our appetite for content grows.

Strong growth in subscriber numbers or growth in download terabytes does not itself underwrite a growth in revenue from subscribers. But there are trends that underlie the overall data that represent a strong opportunity for content providers. According to PwC, the Australian media and entertainment sector will grow by about 13% over the next five years. During this period ad revenues are expected climb only 12%, and consumer revenues by 13% – with both categories being held back by the ongoing uncertainty surrounding advertising restructures that in turn has been brought on by the move to digital platforms.

On-demand content such as catch-up TV presents new opportunities for monetisation by broadcasters with online video and mobile advertising expected to grow at compound annual rates of 44% and 25% respectively. Online media delivery will allow more targeted advertising tailored to audiences. This “anywhere, anytime” model for media consumption will also enable content owners to better monetise back-catalogues of programming material.

Multi-screening will further drive a giant wave of video content. But this burgeoning amount of video content is only valuable if the video is accessible – if it can be readily found and easily viewed. Finding a media services delivery partner that can manage the cataloging of video content, making it accessible and discoverable is of paramount importance. Giving transcripts to online video provides consumers with a vast amount of metadata to facilitate the discovery of programs of interest to them. If an associated video has a full transcript, viewers can be taken to an exact point within the video making the experience of discovery simple and painless.

If the advantage of a full-program transcript is created in conjunction with catch-up TV, the ability to deliver targeted advertising based on audience data and across a high-speed broadband network like the National Broadband Network, broadcasters have the opportunity to undergo an unprecedented transformation that helps them win both revenue and audiences.

Technology has brought us to a crossroads where we finally have a winning solution that empowers broadcasters, content creators and audiences to live beyond the entertainment screens that once kept them waiting.

Chris Howe is managing director of Red Bee Media Australia. 

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