Advanced Television

Pay-TV struggling against Netflix UI

July 12, 2012

Pay-TV companies are struggling to keep up with video experiences enabled by connected TVs and iPads, according to analyst firm ABI Resesarch. Their situation, caused by a slow-moving business model, as well as serving less technically savvy consumers, is exacerbated by suffering a hardware disadvantage as they rely on set-top boxes that are typically a five to seven year-old technology.

Consumers are looking at video content from a wider array of choices, including more channels, VoD, DVR recordings and even Internet videos. “To meet this demand, pay-TV operators are adopting search, recommendation, and discovery technologies that can help viewers find the right content at the right time. These systems typically leverage cloud-based technologies to compensate for the older technology in the home,” notes Sam Rosen, practice director of TV & video at ABI Research.

According to a recent survey by ABI Research as part of its Technology Barometer, of consumers that own tablets, over 50 per cent of them are watching video content while on connected TV platforms (including Blu-ray players, Smart set-top boxes, Connected TVs, and Connected Game Console), between 31 per cent and 52 per cent of consumers are using these for Internet video (depending on device type). This sets a high bar for video experiences. HBO Go offers beautiful graphics, simple navigation, and responsiveness while Netflix has started to offer multiple user interfaces, including one optimised for children.

ABI Research notes that established digital media companies such as Rovi and Technicolor, TV middleware companies (notably, Viaccess-Orca with its COMPASS recommendation technology), together with a set of innovating companies, including DigitalSmiths, APRICO, and Gravity R&D (winners of the Netflix prize for improving search algorithms) are competing to offer the core technologies rolled out by cable, satellite, and IPTV pay-TV operators. In addition, second-screen experiences, designed to use on a tablet while in front of the TV, are gaining more attention from service providers.


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