The One Thing

Published on 12/02/2019

Category: Innovation

Should a Pay-TV Operator care about Uber? Or AirBnB? Or even Alibaba?

If they want to remain relevant to their subscribers, the answer is a resounding yes.

On the surface, none of these companies has anything to do with Pay-TV. Underneath the surface, however, these companies all have an important element in common.

Beyond what they deliver to the consumer – be it cheap transportation, innovative lodging, or consumer goods – these companies have embraced the disruptive power of digital. They’ve put it at the very core of their operations. And they’re rewriting the rules of business because of it.

As we’ve written before, digital is an element that Pay-TV Operators must adopt should they wish to survive and grow.

After all, it was only a few years ago that leaders in mature industries – manufacturing, for example – thought themselves safe from the disruptions wreaking havoc on knowledge-intensive spaces like banking and insurance.

Now, not so much.

According to Harvard Business Review, “previously strong barriers to entry have perished; fixed assets such as car fleets, hotels, bank branches, and landline infrastructure have become weaknesses.”

“In recent times, the power of the Internet, especially the mobile phone, has unleashed a movement that’s […] moving power to new places,” wrote Havas Media SVP Tom Goodwin in 2015.

Those new places are consumers themselves. So pervasive has the impact of digital been on the products and services we rely on that changes in one industry drive expectations in another.

Now, regardless of what they’re doing online – be it booking a cab, finding a place to stay or buying a new fridge – the consumer experience must be simple, enjoyable, and fast.

Pay-TV belongs to a category that HBR classifies as in a viability state. To survive, companies in this state must embrace strategies that keep them in a constant state of innovation. This involves increasing the penetration of innovative offerings with existing customers while expanding aggressively into adjacent or entirely unchartered markets by leveraging the strength of their core business.

Traditional broadcasters were slow to embrace digital distribution, as their leadership was reluctant to “trade analog dollars for digital pennies.” Nevertheless, this is exactly what has happened, and broadcasters have been trying to catch-up to pure-play OTT services ever since.

As we’ve written before, going digital means more than simply doing what you’ve always been doing but with different technology. It means rethinking your entire operation from the customer perspective and rebuilding it to meet their expectations. 

For Pay-TV Operators to stay ahead of their competitors and remain relevant to their customers, that means developing a deeper understanding of what it really means to embrace digital. They can learn from these digital disruptors by asking three tough questions of their current offerings:

  1. Experience: Does it offer a familiar service in a way that’s more convenient and less expensive, like Uber does?

  2. Innovation: Does your service offer your customers unconventional or exciting new opportunities and experiences, like AirBnB does?
  3. Selection: Do you offer easy access to the broadest possible content selection, like Alibaba does?

Finally, does your offering do all three of these, without fail, all at the same time?

If the answer is no, then you need to pursue more than incremental change. Because that’s the bar that these new disruptors have set.

Adjusting to disruption is never easy; but the longer you avoid tackling the issue the more difficult it becomes to do anything, including stay in business. Fortunately, there is a way forward. It lies in using data to understand your subscribers’ current preferences and predict their future ones. It lies in moving to a cloud-based infrastructure that allows for rapid prototyping, iteration, and deployment.

Finally, it lies in choosing a trusted partner who’s done this before and seen similar companies ride the disruptive wave with renewed confidence and growth.

So. Are you ready to get started? 

Dipalli Bhatt

Director, Marketing and Demand Generation at Espial

Dipalli Bhatt

Director, Marketing and Demand Generation at Espial

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