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October 5, 2015

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Keys to Meeting Rising User Expectations: A Multi-network Forum Commentary

The challenge of meeting rising user expectations for video service experiences was the main discussion point at the fourth annual Multi-network Forum IBC 2015 in Amsterdam. Analytics and security were highlighted by several of the panelists as having major roles in enabling operators to deliver more complete offerings that combine the best content with seamless access for users – wherever they are and from whichever device they choose.

It was clear, though, that priorities varied between operators. Telefonica’s Francisco Saez Arance identified revenue leakage as the major challenge, since that has been rife in some Latin American markets. “To combat these challenges, we need good technology across all our platforms, so we can leverage single encryption to manage conditional access in linear TV and DRM online,” said Saez Arance.

Then Amir Eilat of Kaltura made an important point that a security focus should not be seen as restrictive of user experience, but rather as a means of ensuring that the best content is as widely available as possible. “When you match up the business logic with the DRM you can meet end user expectations on every possible device,” said Eilat. He suggested that limitations on where users can access content or functionality of cloud DVR solutions – say resulting from commercial, legal or regulatory constraints – could be reconciled through communication and service logic that optimizes availability as far as that is possible.

Saez Arance noted that content rights allocated by country, as they often are today, make it hard to deliver a single global service, but he agreed that it is still possible to deliver a universal user experience. Verimatrix CEO Tom Munro chimed in on this note by highlighting the benefits for both user experience and operational management of migrating revenue security from purely device based logic to intelligence-based in the cloud.

“Operators are able to upgrade and improve their own security systems and quickly respond to threats, as well as new use cases,” said Munro. He noted that key security decisions were increasingly being driven by customers and a call for a flexible, responsive approach. “As customers come with their TV sticks or Roku boxes, we need to make sure operators and video service providers can reach users on any of these devices,” Munro added.

Google’s Sascha Pruter identified analytics as the key enabler of the user experience for the TV service of the future. “For operators to know what their subscribers want is an important enabler - and the fact we can get data back from the set-top box is a huge asset. Enabling analytics in a way the subscriber consents to is a key component and will be more and more important going forward.”

This point was reinforced by Munro who commented, “It’s becoming more complex to instrument the user experience in the multi-screen world. Analytics have become essential in enabling this, identifying not just on what, when and where users are accessing services, but also how they are experiencing and engaging with the content.”

Indeed the ultimate objective of the analytics process is to enhance the user experience. On this front, several panelists noted the growing drive for quality as a service differentiator. While Google’s Pruter suggested that expectations of video quality were still lower on connected devices like tablets than the main TV, Paul Larbey of Alcatel-Lucent’s Video Business Division, argued that the gap was narrowing fast. “Tolerance for poor quality is disappearing, and the network is becoming more important as a result, taking some of the traditional functionality of the set-top box into the cloud.”

Underlining all of these messages at the Forum was one fundamental point summarized by Pruter, “My takeaway is that we all face similar challenges and are moving in the same direction.”

I encourage you to view the panel discussion and what the panellists felt were their highlights from the Forum. Please continue this discussion with a comment on whether you agree – or disagree – with any of the speakers.