May 19, 2021

Launching or refreshing a Pay TV streaming platform? It pays to choose the simple life

I’ve been around the Pay TV industry for many more years than I like to admit, but it didn’t take me long to learn that operators don’t embark on a technology refresh without a really good reason. The uncertainty, costs and timescales involved have always been a major obstacle to change, even before there was an IPTV or streaming platform alongside cable, satellite or terrestrial TV.

Today, technology change has become unavoidable. Intensely competitive market conditions put operators under constant pressure to deliver more for their subscribers - more content, more features, more ways to watch on their own terms. And you can’t become a content aggregator, digital innovator or multi-screen master if your technology stands still. 

Meanwhile, many more Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) are also looking to add TV to their product offering. They need a streaming platform, but can’t invest the level of time, money and skilled resources traditionally employed by established Pay TV rivals. 

So whether it’s a brand new streaming platform or a technology upgrade that’s required, what can operators of all sizes do to reduce the associated complexity, cost and risk? It’s a topic that’s explored in our new whitepaper, Pay TV Doesn’t Have To Be Painful which includes some fascinating operator case studies like the Dutch telco Youfone.

The never-ending integration project

One thing quickly becomes clear from these case studies: operators are keen to avoid the cost and timeline unpredictability that comes with piecing-together solutions using multiple so-called “best of breed” suppliers. 

With the backend streaming platform, subscriber management system and front-end consumer experience so tightly interwoven, making any change to your Pay TV infrastructure can require months (or years!) of planning, development, integration and testing. The operator needs to coordinate multiple vendors and pay for a specialist systems integrator. 

Bespoke integration is never smooth sailing. It’s almost impossible to predict what difficulties will arise to explode the project timeline and budget.”

Keep your streaming platform simple - from start to finish

What’s the alternative? Choosing an end-to-end solution from a supplier like 24i can eliminate much of that uncertainty because the various elements of the solution are pre-integrated. From content encoding, transcoding, protection, storage and delivery to a whitelabel front-end application and even the middleware and hardware if you’re looking for a STB-based deployment. 

It’s true, some of the fancy “best of breed” features might not be available in a turnkey solution, but why would you sign up to a high-risk, open-ended integration project when a pre-packaged solution can achieve most of the same benefits at much lower risk? It’s the reason most people buy a home instead of building their own. For all but the bravest of us, it’s not worth the cost and effort when you can move straight into a ready-made home. 

Our end-to-end solution for operators: 24i’s best-kept secret? 

If you know 24i primarily for our world-class front-end applications, it may come as something of a surprise to learn that we offer just such an end-to-end, turnkey streaming platform for Pay TV operators. The integration work between our Smart Video, Smart Apps and Backstage products is already complete, so uncertainty around timelines is reduced, and for the  ultimate in “one-stop-shopping”, we can even supply and support pre-integrated STBs for Linux or  Android TV via our sister company, Amino. That’s the route taken by Dutch MNVO Youfone, enabling it to completely replace its streaming platform and launch a new Android TV STB in just five months. 

Keeping the pricing as simple as the project

On the financial side, working with multiple vendors also increases the budgetary complexity of your streaming platform as each will have their own pricing model. Some will require heavy capital expenditure, while CDN providers typically charge per GB of content uploaded or streamed. Both the initial outlay and ongoing budgetary uncertainty are a particular challenge for operators who are new to the market or growing rapidly. They will find it hard to accurately predict costs as their video library and consumer engagement grows. 

Here too, an all-in-one solution can reduce complexity, especially if you choose a partner that offers pragmatic pricing per subscriber. For example, after a modest set-up fee, 24i charges a flat fee per subscriber per month that decreases as subscriber volumes increase. Whether you’re operating 20 channels or 200, the price per sub won’t rise until you add new functionality. This creates certainty around budgeting and is a particularly attractive option for start-ups and scale-ups, or providers who are branching into TV or streaming for the first time. 

Looking beyond the launch pad

The benefits of an all-in-one streaming platform aren’t limited to the launch phase of your service. Download the whitepaper to learn more about how a managed TV Platform as a Service (TVPaaS) can dramatically reduce the complexity of daily operations, even when you’re operating multiple consumer-facing brands and delivering a top-quality user experience. 

By Lennart Broers, Sales Director, Operator Solutions, 24i

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