Over the last few years, technology has transformed the consumption of television. As a result, the pay-TV industry is undergoing a period of change and development with intensifying competition and business model disruption. In Asia Pacific, the industry is projected to grow at a 5.8 per cent average annual rate from 2016 to 2021. However, traditional pay-TV platforms are being threatened by the rise of video on demand (VOD) and over-the-top (OTT) services. 2016 saw the entrance of Netflix in markets across Asia. Other OTT players in the region such as iFlix, Hooq and Viu are also vying for a share of the market.
Although the markets in Asia Pacific are at varying stages of change and evolution, given the differences in economic conditions, demographics, penetration of broadband and pay-TV, and content preferences, there is no doubt that pay-TV providers across the region must develop viable new offerings to retain and grow their customer base.
Here we take a look at some of the top trends that are expected to shape the pay-TV landscape in 2017:
Moving from analog to digital: In order to provide enhanced services to customers and meet regulatory requirements on analog switch-off, pay-TV providers across the region are expected to continue the move to digital broadcasting. This will be seen across countries such as Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam as they work towards switching off analog broadcasting entirely. Customers will benefit from more programming options and higher quality images and sound.
Greater collaboration between pay-TV and OTT providers: The evolving consumer appetite for more on-demand and multiscreen viewing is transforming the TV market. As per the Pay-TV Innovation Forum, a research programme launched by NAGRA in partnership with MTM, Asia Pacific’s OTT video industry is developing rapidly, with around 100 million people subscribing to online video services in 2015. As such, pay-TV providers will have to further embrace all things OTT, including enhancing their core TV service with OTT partner offerings or integrating OTT into their hardware and infrastructure. The increased OTT investments will broaden content options, resulting in happier subscribers, who will have more viewing choices.
TV User Experience (UX): Modern consumers are looking for a seamless, easy-to-use TV experience combining linear and on-demand viewing across all screens. Pay-TV providers will have to rise to the challenge to remain competitive. This includes providing a better integration of the technology ecosystem into a rich UX that delivers the same services on all screens.
More flexibility with personalisation of pay-TV packages and pricing offers: Contract obligations for large channel bundles are losing traction, and one-size-fits-all business models are no longer going to cut it. By leveraging OTT, pay-TV providers are adjusting their business models with new offers, including skinny bundles and a-la-carte options. This also includes more app-based services, stand-alone OTT and TV Everywhere offerings to connect consumers to the content they love.
Diversification into adjacent services: Service providers looking to strengthen their offerings will explore diversification into adjacent offerings, including dynamic data-driven advertising and smart home solutions (such as in-home security and automation). These new services will be driven by large telcos and service providers. In particular, for pay-TV providers that own broadband networks, data is just too big of an opportunity to not be explored. Further investments should be expected from advanced providers looking at leveraging their own network infrastructure to develop new monetization engines.
Taking a broader view on content protection: The growing trend of streaming premium live TV channels and 4K content over the internet is forcing pay-TV operators and content owners to revisit their content security policies. Simply securing content distribution over managed networks is not enough anymore. Controlling piracy with a holistic approach is the new normal. For service providers, this will mean expanding beyond protecting distributed content over any network to incorporating cyber-security media services and forensic watermarking into their portfolio. This will be a necessity to meet content owner requirements and sustain revenues.
Local and regional programming: While the market for global content remains strong, quality local and regional content will become increasingly important for providers and will serve as a key differentiator in an increasingly competitive market. The Pay-TV Innovation Forum research by NAGRA and MTM found that Asia Pacific is characterised by very high levels of cultural and linguistic diversity, with many consumers having a strong preference for content in a local language. As such, providers will be tasked with building a strategy that incorporates both local and global content in order to cater to the diverse customer base in Asia Pacific.
Consumer habits will continue to evolve with rapid advances in technology. In an increasingly fragmented market across Asia Pacific, innovation driven by consumer needs will be a key tool in the arsenal of pay-TV operators, both big and small. Operators who can offer their customers greater choice and value will flourish in 2017 and beyond.