Canada: Choice and convenience key to pay-TV

Canadians aren’t cancelling their cable subscriptions, but convenience, choice and a customisable experience are of the utmost importance, says a PwC report.

According to the report, it’s not the cords that are the issue for consumers – cable subscriptions are still dominant in the media landscape, and people are still willing to pay for the services they use. However, Canadians are keen to be able to access content whenever, wherever and however they want. For many, this means retaining their cable subscriptions and DVD players but enjoying access to On Demand services and PVR devices and enhancing these traditional media with digital platforms. But, to satisfy these demands, media organisations face the challenge finding the fine balance between creating new content platforms and keeping costs in line.

“Canadians are not cutting the cords yet, and we don’t expect that trend to shift anytime soon,” says Lisa Coulman, Partner, Audit and Assurance Group at PwC. “However, while they may not have concerns about costs, what they do want is choice and an experience made just for them. As such, there is pressure on companies to meet these demands and invest in new ways of providing content.”

When it comes to the ‘second screen’ – digital platforms that enable media consumption – this is seen more of an enhancement for engagement than a real threat to the traditional areas within the industry. Canadians enjoy the flexibility of being able to watch a TV show or play a game and then engage with related brands online. For media companies, this adds a whole new dimension to advertising—one that focuses on building communities and collaborating with sponsors on real-time engagement and customised experiences.

“Advertising isn’t about billboards, commercials or banner ads anymore – it’s become a two way street,” says Coulman. “Consumers don’t want to be talked at—they want to feel like they’re part of something, whether that’s live tweeting or following a Facebook page or participating in an interactive online contest.”

The report also notes that it’s not just consumers that are looking for customisation and flexibility. In fact, as pressure mounts to provide consumers with easy and real-time access to content, media companies are taking steps to streamline their offerings and form strategic partnerships with organisations that specialise what they themselves do not provide. As new costs arise as a result of consumer demands, the ‘one size fits all’ approach no longer applies, media companies find themselves in a position where they need to be creative and work with some unlikely players (including their competitors) to provide a full spectrum of services and keep costs under control.

“Casting a wide net doesn’t work anymore, not for businesses and not for consumers,” Coulman says. “While traditional media consumption has remained strong, the industry landscape has shifted to include more players and new sources of engagement, which companies must harness in order to continue to thrive.”

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