Despite still relatively low consumer awareness of its benefits, multiscreen video is offering service providers more hope in the fiercely competitive pay-TV market.
In a fresh study of service providers around the world conducted for Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS), Heavy Reading found that cable operators and telcos alike anticipate strong growth in both the deployment and adoption of their multiscreen video services over the next couple of years. Pay-TV providers also expect their subscribers to use TV Everywhere services more frequently in the near future, creating the potential for greater financial gains.
What's more, the study reported that the majority of service providers expect to start monetizing multiscreen video directly in the next two years, either through ads, special mobility charges, transactional charges or higher overall subscription fees. In fact, about two-thirds of providers expect to charge something extra for TV Everywhere by 2017.
Further, while most service providers are not yet charging their video subscribers directly for multiscreen access to content, they are still reaping more indirect financial rewards from TV Everywhere today. Most notably, more than half of the providers say they are benefiting from retaining more existing subscribers, upselling those subscribers to higher levels of service and attracting new video customers. A sizable number are selling more content on a transactional basis.
Several major challenges to multiscreen monetization remain, of course. Not surprisingly, the study found service providers still cite the lack of content rights for some video devices as the single biggest challenge they face in bringing TV Everywhere services to their customers. Many also cite the lack of content rights for out-of-home streaming as the biggest multiscreen delivery challenge.
But pay-TV providers believe that content rights conflicts will start fading as a key obstacle as they keep striking more multiscreen carriage deals with video programmers. As a result, they expect bandwidth constraints to emerge as the greatest hurdle by 2017, eclipsing either type of content rights problem.
Finally, the study found that multiscreen video transcoding does not lend itself to a "one-size-fits-all" strategy. Instead, the study concludes that the preferred adaptive video streaming protocols of service providers will continue to shift as providers move toward one or two industry standards. At the same time, service delivery architectures will shift from a primarily centralized (cloud-based) model to a mix of distributed (cloud-, edge- and gateway-based) approaches.
The new survey results come in the wake of other multiscreen video studies showing that consumer uptake is finally on the upswing, nearly six years after Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX) and Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) introduced the concept of TV Everywhere. In the latest study, Adobe Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ADBE) announced that the percentage of pay-TV subscribers viewing multiscreen video content nearly tripled from 4.4% in the first quarter of 2013 to 12.5% in the fourth quarter of 2014. Further, the company found in its Inaugural Video Benchmark Report that more than 13 million viewers logged in to watch TVE programming at least once every quarter last year, up from 6 million active TVE viewers the year before. (See TV Everywhere Nears Mainstream Adoption.)
The Heavy Reading survey, which was conducted late last year, polled more than 70 executives from cable and telco video providers in North America, South America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Video executives were asked a detailed series of more than 20 questions about their company's multiscreen video plans and challenges.
— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading