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Building pay-TV resilience in a time of crisis

The combination of revenue and operational pressures caused by COVID-19 is putting operators around the world in precarious positions that some may find difficult to recover from.

Under normal circumstances, any business will use past experiences to create business and economic forecasts that help prepare for future eventualities. However, the situation we find ourselves in is unique – there is nothing similar to compare to – which makes it even tougher to plan for the future.

Operators therefore need to consider a different approach, one that uses intelligence and data to drive strategic and operational decision-making. To enable recovery and growth, there are three fundamental rules that operators need to incorporate into their strategies to support recovery.

1. Make use of real-time data

Regular business practices encompass learning through experience so that they're resilient and prepared for future eventualities. That simply isn't possible now, which means operators need to look at up-to-date, real-time data to inform their decision-making. It could include monitoring subscriber numbers or identifying which shows are most popular to support content licensing strategies and conversations with advertisers, actively track pirates and take steps to mitigate the loss of premium shows.

Real-time data also enables operators to understand timelines for growth. If they can see in real time that consumers are responding positively to new offers, for example, it is a good indication that subscriber numbers may be about to increase, and operators can therefore decide whether to begin bringing paywalls back in. Without this knowledge, service providers could miss opportunities to reclaim revenues.

2. Be industry-specific

Operators work in a complicated landscape that has its own unique challenges, meaning they must consider what will be most effective for them. Industry-specific data, algorithms and know-how can be powerful here, as they enable operators to make decisions tailored to their particular situations, whether that's competing with D2C providers and pirates, or managing subscribers at a personal level.

3. Be systematic about 'Try, Measure, Iterate'

Roadmaps need to adapt to current and expected situations. Today's landscape means this needs to happen much faster than usual. With the main goal for many being to reacquire or bring in new subscribers, operators need to adjust their acquisition strategies, as subscribers may be facing financial difficulties. This is only possible through real-time data analysis that's specific to pay-TV.

Having identified how these rules align with their requirements, operators can look at the next step in building resilience through a three-phased approach:

  • The first is to stabilize the current situation, mitigating the short-term risks or revenue loss. It requires operators to actively monitor for and identify any challenges or operational issues that they can address quickly. It could also include data-driven consumer targeting, encouraging them to stay with the service through personalized incentives.
  • Once stabilized, operators can move into phase two – getting back to work. That obviously includes operators' employees, but it also means getting the business back on track. At this point it is key to gradually re-introduce paywalls, develop personalized packages for subscribers who weren't able to pay and implement new marketing campaigns to drive acquisition.
  • Operators who have successfully stabilized and begun rebuilding can look to phase three: growth. It requires operators to accelerate transformation to become much more agile and relevant to consumers, so they can rapidly adapt to unprecedented challenges in the future.

The fallout of COVID-19 has brought about significant disruption globally, pay-TV included, and there is no past to learn from – we have to learn, adapt and re-learn now. Only with data and business performance solutions to understand the organization, customers, the threats and opportunities can operators succeed in the new reality. Using up-to-date and industry-relevant information in real-time provides strategic insight that will ultimately enable growth to start again.

— Jacques-Edouard Guillemot, Senior Vice President, NAGRA

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