Write-Up of the Industry Breakfast

How to win new subscribers across all age groups: Ocilion steers TV operators through challenging terrain at the IPTV/OTT Industry Breakfast 

The seventh annual market-leading IPTV/OTT Industry Breakfast welcomed a packed house at ANGA COM 2019, with hosts Ocilion and a panel of special guests outlining the challenges operators face in winning new subscribers across all age groups.

Hans Kühberger, CEO of the Austrian based B2B provider of complete IPTV solutions, opened the event in Cologne, shining the spotlight on the cross-generational appeal of an IPTV solution and highlighting its flexibility in meeting the myriad needs of TV viewers both young and old.

Addressing the 165-plus audience, he said: “With IPTV we have the ability to serve different age groups with different services.”  

“There are many challenges facing operators. The industry is going through tremendous change. Every year we see new video-on-demand subscription services, OTT services.”

Hans Kühberger, Ocilion

“We have huge disruptions from content owners addressing consumers directly. We have huge disruptions when live only channels compete against tens of thousands of subscription or on-demand video titles, from the likes of Amazon Prime or Netflix.” 

“And, there are a huge amount of challenges operators need to win to attract customers, to keep customers and to upsell customers. IPTV is a highly flexible aggregator approach that can help operators upsell their products.”

In his presentation, the head of Ocilion demonstrated consumers’ diverse TV viewing habits by focusing on three personae of different ages. 

  1. Julia, a 24-year-old student, fell under the “streamers only” banner – meaning she’s not interested in live TV, demanding high internet bandwidth and streaming Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube instead. She isn’t interested in watching TV programmes at the time of live broadcast. Of course she is interested in the TV content, but she wants to decide herself when to watch, using a replay service. If a specific channel is not available on demand, Julia will not watch it.
  2. Thomas, a 45-year-old professional, was described as a “comfort user” – someone who enjoys access to TV shows and comfort features, pays extra for content and sports, and whose living room is central to his viewing experience.
  3. Finally, Frank, a 62-year-old craftsman, watches TV live, has limited tech know-how, but understands functions for flexibility.

Given that an IPTV solution is an aggregator of all content, Kühberger insisted this platform is the obvious choice for operators, not least because it allows them to have full control.

Predicting its future dominance as the runaway TV solution, he pointed to Switzerland – an early adopter of IPTV – where over 50 per cent of all households in the country have installed an IPTV service, and the conversion rates are growing by the day.  

Kühberger elaborated on the two main solutions Ocilion offers to its B2B clientele – an on-premise platform which is hosted within the operator’s own infrastructure using its own existing TV signals, or a managed service hosted by Ocilion that consists of one bundled signal at the point of handover – before explaining: “Running your own devices (set top boxes) on your own IPTV system, either on-premise or as a managed service, you are your own boss. On all app platforms, you are only a guest. Guests conditions sometimes change. Guests sometimes also get kicked out. Better be your own boss.”

“As a guest, there are things you are simply not allowed to do. For example, if you want to run your own self service upselling business, usually the app platforms want to keep a revenue share. Operators don’t want to pay such a share, as margins especially for content packages are low anyway. 

“Being on your own platform, being your own boss, is more appealing. You can decide what’s on your user interface, what services are provided, what content is provided, at what intervals you run the service and software updates and who has access to your users data. Ocilion delivers full end-to-end solutions to operators that want to be their own boss.”

Hans Kühberger, Ocilion

Ocilion deliveries include IP-only and IP/HFC-hybrid 4K UHD/HDR devices, headend hardware and software, content and professional services, as well as the full turnkey setup. Combining everything makes it easier for an operator as a one stop shop. This delivery is basically our job.”

The globally-renowned independent Industry Breakfast saw industry chiefs and the eco-system gather under one roof to collectively troubleshoot challenges and brainstorm the next big opportunities in the operator arena.

Following Kühberger’s opening speech, moderator Julian Clover, from Broadband TV News, lead a panel discussion between the Ocilion CEO, Philipp-Thomas Müller (Team Leader of Product Management & Corporate Communication at Austrian cable operator LIWEST), Werner Starz (Director of Product Development, Discovery Communications, Germany) and Steve Oetegenn (COO of digital TV content security specialists Verimatrix – a close partner of Ocilion).

Müller, whose company LIWEST launched its first Ocilion-based IPTV servicelast quarter of 2018, kickstarted proceedings on a positive note: “I’m confident about the long-term future of IPTV solutions. One reason is the flexibility, for us as an operator and for the customer as well. 

“It’s about having a technology-independent TV service that’s capable for all technologies. As an operator, the key to success is all about aggregation. This will be the leading service in 10 years.”

Philipp-Thomas Müller, LIWEST

Prior to the morning meeting, Clover accrued disruptive statements from each of the panellists. Asking Kühberger to expand on his claim that “all linear channels will require replay to survive”, he responded: “Nowadays users have the option to choose from either tens of thousands of SVOD titles that can be watched at any time, or from hundreds of linear channels, to be watched live only. That competition channels will not win, never. You cannot be competitive as a broadcaster if your content is only available at the time of broadcast. They all need to open up for 7 days replay services, better now than later.

“By the way, we see that 50% of the replay service is within six hours, then there’s a peak for yesterday evening’s shows and 10% for the rest of the week. It’s a comfort feature. People like it, and it is very easy to use, for all age groups.”

Hans Kühberger, Ocilion

In terms of the obstacles confronting programmers, Starz revealed that serving communities – including those lying dormant and untapped – remains a key component of success for broadcasters, but it’s proving a much tougher task in this uncertain era of TV consumption.

He said: “When I started at Eurosport in 1996 we were broadcasting figure skating, which at one point attracted 1.2m viewers in Germany. We still show it, but today there are around 40,000 viewers. There are always trends. 

“When I look at Dancing on Ice, broadcast on ITV in the UK, it has millions of viewers. So people are still interested in figure skating, but now it’s a different presentation. What can I do now with the figure skating community, because it’s still there, it’s still relevant. It still makes sense to service them, but how do you reach them?”

Clover then challenged Oetegenn on his statement that “the entire industry is going direct to consumer”, to which he revealed: “I do believe the industry will move towards a blended service; an easier-to-use direct-to-consumer service from the content owners. The content owners still need the channels through the cable, satellite and IPTV operators.

“But it does mean that traditional pay-TV operators need to sharpen their act, providing easier to use content that’s more on the user’s terms. The entire way content is delivered and monetised has to change, to the benefit of the consumer.”

Steve Oetegenn, Verimatrix

Towards the end of the panel discussion, Starz concluded: “Package the product correctly and it will reach the right audience,” and it was a sentiment that aptly encapsulated the bright future that lies in wait for IPTV solution providers such as Ocilion – a one-stop shop ticking all the boxes for consumers of every generation.

The Industry Breakfast is an annual highlight at the ANGA COM – featuring exhibitors from 35 countries with a strong focus this year on areas of fibre-optics, IPTV and OTT – and so it proved to be once again.

More information on the panelists:

Ocilion: www.ocilion.com
Verimatrix: www.verimatrix.com
Liwest: www.liwest.at