LAS VEGAS – Traditional video companies have been able to “drive efficiencies” out of their core business models until now, but today they must find new growth areas from digital business models in response to the many changes that have taken place in the industry, according to Sef Tuma, managing director of Accenture Digital Video.
And those traditional players must use “capital efficiency” to achieve that growth — something not always so easy for such companies to achieve, Tuma told the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) at the NAB Show.
During an interview at the show, he explained the main takeaways from the seventh edition of Accenture Digital Video’s series of reports on “Bringing TV to Life,” which Tuma was the primary author of. The report covers strategies for traditional video content distributors including TV networks and programmers, as well as content aggregators including pay TV operators.
The report identified several challenges traditional video companies face, including: rising operational costs to create content, growing consumer resistance to pay for content, struggles to present content engagingly, intensifying difficulties monetizing video products and services, and the elusiveness of relevant customer data such as what video scenes don’t work, which actors turn off viewers, and how far into shows audiences continue watching programs.
The report also specified competitive advantages that are possessed by new breeds of disruptive “digital native” companies, including Internet platform providers, resulting in higher future valuations driving their corresponding share prices.
Those advantages include more cash, targeted original content differentiators and global monetization, and the ability to quickly and broadly respond to viewer behaviors.
“Every year this becomes a more urgent report,” Tuma told MESA. Two to four years ago, the report’s focus was on what companies “needed to be to be successful; now, it’s starting to become much more about what you need to do,” he said. Some of their options are “organic,” with examples that include a company investing in platforms that it owns internally to better collect data to better understand consumers, and automated services like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to react to customers’ needs, he said. Other options they have are “inorganic” strategies, including the formation of joint ventures or acquisitions to gain platforms, he added.
He went on to explain the importance of the “S-curve” model that includes first transforming and growing a company’s core business. Then, as revenues start to level off, a company must experiment with new business models, before eventually “pivoting or leaping” to a new S-curve, according to the report.
Also at the NAB Show:
Deluxe didn’t make any announcements at NAB this year, opting to instead just use the show to highlight services that the company said “Transform, Localize, Catalog, Distribute, and Play content for all platforms, windows, and screens, everywhere on the planet.”
“We’re really focusing on globalization and shortening timelines, and really how our solutions can help people get their content all the way from creation to distribution — from any end point — and how we have massive global scale to help enable that,” Chris Reynolds, VP of global strategic partnerships-Technology & Innovation, told MESA at the show.
For instance, on the localization front, he pointed out that Deluxe has a “huge” team of 1,700 employees and 9,000 translators that handle “60-plus” languages. The company made the “strategic” acquisition, late last year, of Sfera, which he said helped Deluxe “create a cloud-based localization platform.” Deluxe is handling more than 1 million minutes of translation/localization each month, he said.
That platform is leveraging Amazon Web Services in the cloud “to give us the scale to really keep up with the day-and-date timelines that everybody’s facing,” he added.
At NAB, Deluxe also showcased its MediaStore platform, its end-to-end solution that helps companies streamline content sales and distribution. Reynolds pointed to Comcast’s NBCUniversal division’s use of MediaStore, telling us that media company keeps over 200,000 titles in MediaStore.
At the show, IBM continued to focus on advancements made with its Watson cognitive computing system, this time announcing it will roll out a Watson-enabled cloud service later this year designed to help companies extract new insights from video with a degree of analysis that it said was not previously possible.
The content enrichment service “highlights IBM’s continued focus on combining AI with the IBM Cloud to help media and entertainment companies make sense of unstructured data and make more informed decisions about the content they create, acquire and deliver to viewers,” IBM said in a news release.
The service will use Watson’s cognitive capabilities to provide a deeper analysis of video and extract metadata including keywords, concepts, visual imagery, tone and emotional context, it said, calling this a “unique offering to enter the market because it applies a range of artificial intelligence capabilities — including language, concepts, emotions and visual analysis — to extract insights.”
The new service could help media and entertainment companies better manage their content libraries, according to IBM. As an example, it noted that a company might want to prioritize content that targets viewers who want more uplifting stories about world adventures. To address this need, the new service could help that company analyze its content library with a new level of detail to determine whether it’s meeting that specific interest.
The significant growth we’ve seen in multiscreen content and viewing options have created a crucial need for media and entertainment companies to transform the way content is developed and delivered to address evolving audience behaviors, according to Steve Canepa, GM of global media and entertainment industry at IBM.
“The nature of competition has fundamentally changed in the industry,” he told MESA at the show. “We used to think in terms of TV shows competing with TV shows and theatrical releases competing with theatrical releases, and game platforms with game platforms,” he said, adding that now “the reality is everybody is competing with everyone at all times.” As a result, it’s now crucial that all these media companies find the best ways to get consumers to spend more time with their content and Web sites so they can monetize that usage with advertising, or to get consumers to tell their social networks how great their content is to convince more people to pay for the content, he said.
There’s been an “incredible fragmentation” in which every consumer has a “unique consumption pattern” across devices, content and services, he said. In this competitive world, “our view is that data moves to the center of the business model in the industry,” and – as a result – “you have a fighting chance to compete with these other core data platforms like Amazon or Netflix, Google, or Yahoo or Microsoft, who are competing now with you” for consumers’ “time, advocacy and attention,” he said.
He added: “We think we’re somewhat uniquely positioned as the only global secure cloud platform provider that isn’t competing” with media companies, so IBM can help all of them to “capture, aggregate, interrogate and get value out of all that data that’s coming as a byproduct of all those connected transactions.”
Media companies must have clear insight into TV viewing trends to build their programming schedules to best attract large audiences. But that’s not so simple today, when viewers have access to more content and more ways to view that content than ever before, RSG Media pointed out.
At NAB, the company highlighted how its software and services help cable and broadcast, entertainment, sports gaming and publishing companies maximize revenue across their content, ad and marketing inventories.
In short: “We do moneyball for media,” Thomas Siegman, EVP of innovation, strategy and client relations, told MESA in a meeting at the show. “The amount of money that media companies leave on the table is staggering,” he said, adding one of RSG’s algorithms “found $50 million a year in wasted money” for just one company.
“That was the start of it, and now we’re expanding upon that same product and those algorithms are continuing to produce $16 [million], $20 [million], $30 million for these networks in different territories across the globe,” Matt Klepac, VP of marketing, told us.
RSG has now enhanced its service with Nquery, a new cognitive search tool that it launched in time for NAB, although it did so quietly, without a public announcement. “We’ve been working on it for quite some time,” Klepac said, noting the company is “rolling it into our RightsLogic” software first and, “from there, we’re going to be bucketing it with some of our analytical tools.”
Vistex used the show to spotlight its rights management and royalty software solutions to the media and broadcasting industries, with an emphasis on a new Web Avails feature for its Media Maestro flagship rights management solution that Tom McDonough, manager of solution delivery, told MESA is rolling out now in beta form.
The new Web Avails tool “provides real-time visibility into all available rights and enables companies to know what they have to broadcast or exploit at any time, any place, and from any device,” according to Amos Biegun, global head of rights and royalties at Vistex.
He pointed to the fact that the broadcasting marketplace has “changed so dramatically in the last few years that tools such as Web Avails have become an essential part of any company’s requirements.”
Although the Vistex system has “always had an availability search feature,” with Web Avails, the company is now “rolling that into the cloud,” McDonough told us, adding: “This is our first step in several stages of moving our systems into the cloud for rights and royalties.”
Vistex was initially “working with our existing customers, getting them upgraded,” Steve Elliott, senior consultant of product strategy, said of Web Avails. A wider rollout, including new customers, will follow, he told us.