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Live streaming remains a content piracy challenge: Pay-TV Innovation Forum

In a seminar held in London, senior pay-TV and content provider executives expressed their optimism about the future of the pay-TV industry in Europe and identified five key priorities for the industry in the coming years.

NAGRA, a Kudelski Group company and an independent provider of content protection and multiscreen television solutions, in partnership with MTM, an international research and strategy consultancy, has published the key takeaways from the European edition of the 2019 Pay-TV Innovation Forum, a global research programme for senior executives designed to explore the biggest challenges and opportunities facing the pay-TV and content industries at a time of unprecedented change.

In a specially convened seminar held in London, senior pay-TV and content provider executives expressed their optimism about the future of the pay-TV industry in Europe and identified five key priorities for the industry in the coming years:

Industry executives are optimistic about the pay-TV industry’s ability to reinvent aggregation models
Executives believe their existing aggregation models must evolve in response to the rising popularity of OTT services, and an anticipated decline in the number of linear channels. 94% of participants believe that, by 2024, major platforms in European markets will carry 20% fewer linear pay-TV channels than today: the changing dynamics of the wider industry – including the shift from linear to on-demand viewing – means that some smaller channels will become unsustainable.

The anticipated proliferation of subscription OTT services presents opportunities for pay-TV providers to become ‘super-aggregators’ of content
79% of executives polled believe that major OTT subscription services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, can be valuable as part of the pay-TV offer. On-boarding OTT services can deliver both convenience and utility, as well as creating new marketing and bundling opportunities. Most executives are optimistic about the longer-term benefits of integrating OTT services into their pay-TV offer: only 26% believe that the growth of paid OTT services will have a negative impact on the European pay-TV industry over the next five years.

Digital transformation is critical to future-proofing the pay-TV business
More than ever, executives agree that pay-TV operators need to transform their business in order to create and deliver the full range of digital products and services that viewers demand. However, challenges remain – over half (57%) believe that costly legacy platforms represent a major operational challenge to pay-TV businesses as they look to transform. Deciding when, where and how to change also remains a key challenge, as does identifying suitable partners to provide support and expertise.

Now more than ever, data and analytics are perceived as a business priority
The European pay-TV industry has made good progress in developing data and analytics capabilities, to support more complex businesses and to better serve their customers but many industry participants believe that there is more to do. Good analytics, coupled with automation and machine learning capabilities, have the potential to transform decision-making, improve performance and deliver far better customer service. However, legacy TV platforms and poor infrastructure remain a challenge, limiting the availability of high-quality data. Moreover, data is unevenly available across the market. Many content providers argue that the historic reluctance of pay-TV operators to share viewer data is outdated and needs to be re-thought, to facilitate the provision of better services and to support competition with the major international OTT providers.

Content piracy in Europe remains a challenge, yet can be contained
Executives still see piracy as a major challenge to the pay-TV business and anticipate only a modest decline over the next few years. Just 7% believe that the proportion of European consumers illegally accessing content will have halved by 2024. New forms of content piracy – such as the rebroadcasting of live streams on social media platforms – are a concern, impacting churn and revenue. Participants indicated that content owners are increasingly engaged in combatting it with a combination of technology and cross-industry initiatives.

“These latest findings shed new light on the key priorities and trends affecting service providers in Europe and are the first of a range of findings to result from the 2019 Pay-TV Innovation Forum research programme” said Simon Trudelle, Senior Director, Product Marketing, NAGRA. “The growth of OTT services is undoubtedly having an impact on the pay-TV and content industries and digital transformation is emerging as a key priority. It is exciting to see that while challenges exist, focus is on creating opportunities for growth and in the end, delivering services that will delight consumers and keep them engaged. The next few years will prove to be pivotal in this regard.”

“Europe’s pay-TV industry is at a crossroads, with slowing growth in many markets and increasing competition on the horizon,” said Jon Watts, Managing Partner, MTM. “After nearly two decades of growth, we’re starting to see the signs of a very different industry – with a greater focus on the network, a broader offering of products and services, and new approaches to aggregation and content retailing. It’s encouraging to see signs of optimism and widespread interest in these new approaches, as the industry looks for the next wave of growth opportunities that will see it into the 2020s.”

The European findings of the 2019 Pay-TV Innovation Forum are available for download. For more information on the programme, visit the Pay-TV Innovation Forum web page.