Q&A about Broadcast Solutions for Tablets and Other Devices
1) Increasingly, there is a growing trend where viewers are now watching live broadcast content on their connected mobile devices. In your opinion, what are the challenges in ensuring that viewers receive the same high quality content on OTT, VoD platforms, as they do on traditional linear TV platforms, and how does the Vimond Highlights solutions in particular, help to overcome these challenges?
We don’t think that one should be trying to replicate the same linear TV experience on mobile devices. We believe that with OTT, the experience should be greatly enriched by adding graphics, metadata and all the things that have made the internet a viable social and communications platform. These things make a huge difference to the user experience. For example, one of the things you can do with OTT is to give viewers alternative views related to the live content, such as a better camera angle on a goal. This is the type of thing that can be done with OTT and can’t with broadcast. With Vimond Highlights, the broadcast editor is able to extract the required highlights from the live stream and distribute them into other platforms. So viewers can enjoy the content in a much enriched way, and with greater involvement in the entire experience.
2) Solutions such as the Vimond Media Platform are also based around cloud infrastructures. How do you think broadcasters, particularly in AsiaPacific, have adapted to the emergence of cloud technology in traditional broadcast infrastructures, and what are some pointers you might offer in terms of adopting cloud technology?
What we are seeing in Asia Pacific is that there is a mixture of acceptance of the cloud, and animosity towards it, but this is not unique to Asia Pacific. The traditional broadcasters have been reluctant to outsource infrastructure as they see it as an integral part of their service, but inevitably they are starting to look at the advantages of the cloud.
When it comes to new players like iflix in Asia Pacific, they have embraced the cloud from the very beginning. They see that they can deploy very quickly, in a cost efficient manner, so they can be very agile and enter new markets quickly, which is impossible without the cloud.
The cloud allows you essentially infinite scalability. It gives you the chance to offer your service in many different ways that your traditional infrastructure might not allow. It lets you look at geographies, rather than markets, at different segmentation across your user base, and it allows you to expand your service, to include collaboration with others and by others, and contribution by others. Once a broadcaster embraces the cloud, they open up an enormous range of possibilities for cooperation and for expanding their services. They can go far beyond the same linear TV service or their existing OTT service, and take the opportunity to develop something bigger and better.
Do we have any examples of migrating to cloud?
We are working on different examples here, in Scandinavia, although these have to remain confidential for the moment. Essentially moving to the cloud and converting all of your services to an IP based infrastructure are two different discussions, but they do go very much hand in hand. Once you migrate to an IP based workflow, a lot of the workflow can be set in the cloud; that saves a lot of resources and also a lot of money in terms of hardware, monitoring and operations.
With the example of iflix, the fact that everything is sitting on a cloud infrastructure means that they do not need to build new broadcast centers in every country they go to. All they need to do is localize the service in terms of languages, audio files and subtitles, and then they have an offering for that country. Of course, there are also other things to consider, like payment mechanisms and so on, but in terms of actually broadcasting and getting better content into the hands of consumers in every market is actually very easy to do because of the cloud.
3) What other trends in video consumption can you see emerging in Asia, and what other strategies would you recommend for broadcasters to deliver content to both linear and nonlinear screens?
I think Asia pioneered a lot of the social interaction that we believe that work on OTT. We saw some examples of OTT providers offering synchronous viewing between devices, but in our view that is the wrong approach for a medium like the internet. Asia was one of the first regions where there were services that facilitated asynchronous viewing in a social way. We are developing that concept onwards and hope to come with a new product on the market very, very soon.
But this is something we picked up from services that we saw live in Asia. If you’re going to be doing anything with OTT, you shouldn’t be thinking about traditional viewing habits. The industry should be thinking about real viewing habits of the YouTube generation, the one that might not actually subscribe to a TV service in the first place if it’s purely based on linear. This is a generation that is very social, that values instant gratification and that, to a big extent, is used to multitasking and multicontent consumption in a much bigger way than previous generations. So when building your OTT service, you should be thinking about these three factors in particular; how to make something that is appealing, good-looking and usable by the generation of people that will be your users in the upcoming years.
(Can you make a comparison between Asian and the US or European market when it comes to delivering content? Are there any differences?)
There are cultural differences, differences in content, of course. Asia Pacific as a region is incredibly diversified in languages, cultures, and in content preferences. This is why, when you go to iflix, they have a vast library of popular Hollywood and international content, Korean dramas, Japanese anime, Tollywood (Tamil version of Bollywood), Chinese period dramas and martial arts films, local Malaysian, Thai and Filipino TV shows and movies, and so on. This amazing content offering has been key to iflix’s success in its markets of operation. Malaysia itself is a market with large ethnic Chinese, Indian and Malay populations. They all live within the same boundaries and they are all Malaysian with vastly different interests, and you have to address all of them.
The same applies to a lot of the countries in Asia Pacific, which as a region is a melting pot of cultures and preferences.
How do you see the future of VOD in Asia, in the upcoming years?
We think that there is going to be a significant growth opportunity not only for VOD, but for OTT television in general. To an extent, it is a function of bandwidth and broadband penetration in a premium market region. It is a function of business models, disposable income in premium markets. This is why the iflix formula is good. It addresses them both in a very effective way.
The story is featured on pages 24-25