As industries across the globe harness the power of data and AI, the pay-TV industry has until now been slow to adapt to this new world. In the past, few were able to properly collect, implement and use data to gain valuable insights or improve their service. Those that did invest in data analytics tools and systems often took a short-sighted, siloed approach where different data sources failed to talk to each other.
But today, the need for a fresh approach is growing; we’re now living in a world where OTT and social media platforms like Netflix and Facebook have built their success on capturing, analysing and acting on data and AI. There’s now a significant opportunity for pay-TV operators to leverage AI in delivering the services consumers want.
And the truth is, many are now starting to put the wheels in motion, as highlighted recently in research by the Pay-TV Innovation Forum, a global programme on innovation in the pay-TV industry. Executives from all over the world offered their views on the issue and shared what they are doing, or planning to do, to make sure they make the most of AI and data.
Dr Randolph Nikutta, Leader Interactive High End Media at Telekom Innovation Laboratories, was keen to speak about its potential in personalisation and predicting user behaviour. “This will help us serve more tailored and relevant content, while also allowing the user to pick out content as conveniently as possible,” he said.
For Dr Nikutta, AI can also play a key role in improving a service provider’s content portfolio: “Content is the biggest cost item in TV operations, so it’s natural you look how smart analytics can improve economics there too.”
AI can also help deliver better personalisation, way beyond simple recommendations, Nikutta adds: “The model of ‘you saw that, you might want to see this’ is not really improving the user experience anymore when it comes to content choice. Looking ahead, a lot of different contextual factors will have to be taken into consideration, including mood, needs, standards of living, day of the week and time of the day. These all come into play with more radical personalisation.”
Looking further down the line, Wim Ponnet, Chief Strategy and Commercial Officer, Endemol Shine Group, considers leveraging AI for content creation to be a bridge too far.
“We analyse which clips work better or have a more positive consumer sentiment attached to them. It is all helpful feedback, but content production is still a highly creative process that can’t be entirely automated or engineered and, in my view, it will never be. Technology will help us in developing storylines and will open new ways of storytelling. But I definitely don’t see the age yet where the computer is going to take over and do the whole creative process for us,” he says.
But for Bee Lian Ong, Vice President of TV Engineering, StarHub, leveraging AI and data ties in with the broader issue of innovation for pay-TV operators.
“I believe we need to take a 360-degree view of innovation,” she says. “A key enabler of innovation in this area is anonymised customer data analytics, as well as other types of analytics and AI applications we can leverage to create a more holistic experience. At the end of the day, the more you understand about your customers’ evolving needs, the better the service you can provide.”
While opinions vary on the impact and possible applications of AI for the industry, executives agree that there’s never been a more critical time for service providers to review their data and analytics strategies. And while there is no one-size-fits-all solution, data and AI can be game changers for pay-TV service providers, helping them deliver long-term business revenue and success.
With the right approach in place, the pay-TV industry is well positioned to leverage all it has to offer.
Simon Trudelle is Senior Director Product Marketing at NAGRA.