irdetoIf there has been one universal truth of the television industry, it’s that content is the centerpiece of the consumer experience. Despite the simplicity of this statement, it’s more complicated than that. Having the right content is necessary, but success is now measured by how attainable that content is through numerous platforms and consumer devices, whether it’s in context, offers new social capabilities, recommendations and personalization - amongst other consumer features.

We used to say that “Content is King” not knowing where the King was. Exposing the information tied to the king (promos, search) is the consumer experience challenge, and the opportunity. Right now, the reality is that the King is everywhere…but it’s not easy to get to him.

In this environment, the largest MVPDs are well-positioned to attract and retain subscribers because they have the bandwidth and resources to invest in advanced, cutting-edge TV Everywhere services, giving their subscribers 24/7 access to the content they love. These large operators, like Comcast and AT&T, were the first movers and led the path to innovation for the rest of the industry not just in the U.S., but worldwide. However… are other small and medium operators ably positioned to actually follow in those footsteps, with far less resources and budget? What about the smaller regional operators who do not have the capacity to replicate a full Xfinity-type offering on their own, yet need to stay competitive in the marketplace?

This is where we see a unique opportunity for small and medium operators: because operators are no longer solely responsible for determining the programming for consumers; it’s the other way around. Consumers are setting the standard for what they want to watch, where they want to watch it and how it is delivered. Even though these demands can look like a tall order, it is very possible for smaller operators to respond and compete with the largest MVPDs by simply utilizing innovative infrastructure technology and savvy content referencing. Here’s how:

1. Simplicity - make it as easy as 1-2-3

Operators have the responsibility to deliver content experiences at only one speed: fast. The only thing

that consumers are interested in is finding and watching the content that is relevant to their interests and is offered at their convenience. As a result, it's important to ensure that subscribers don't have to struggle to interact with navigation platforms. Patience and attention spans are luxuries that cannot be assumed. The same show can be available in a dozen different services: streamed on pay-per-view, free with an Ad model, subscription video services, rented or purchased for download or through a consumer’s pay TV service provider as an entitlement. This requires consumers to have multiple apps, login credentials and, frankly, knowledge that they even exist.

Small and medium operators have a great opportunity today to meet the needs of the consumer by matching or going beyond the offerings of larger operators through the use of innovative infrastructure technology and data management techniques. Although larger operators can build their own platform, the rest still have the opportunity to allocate platforms that not only match these offerings, but exceed them. Proficiency in managing Content Data and Consumer Data will ultimately establish the bar for consumer experience. Understanding the consumer need will help smaller operators find their angle to maintain and grow their subscriber base.

Creating an environment that allows a consistent and familiar user experience across multiple platforms is an absolute necessity today and in the future. It’s imperative that operators are able to provide a simple, clean, and universal access protocol for all their offerings, such as ID management, search & discovery, catalogue management and playback functionality.

2. Achieving agility and efficiency together

Many operators and organizations hold the belief, with very good intentions, that all TV and video

strategies need to be managed in-house to remain aggressive in the marketplace – but this is not necessarily the case, especially when you don’t have a large capital budget. As noted earlier, the industry has shifted to allow consumers the discretion of the content they want. And they want that

content on the latest devices, which evolve at breakneck speeds. In fact, the majority of new devices are purchased within the 6 -12 months of the manufacturer’s product launch.

In order to stay competitive, operators need to keep their ears to the ground and find an iterative evolutionary approach to the new platforms and devices that consumers are using. We have seen that in working together and sharing innovation and resources, small and medium operators can achieve broader and more rapid product differentiation with less risk, for less money, and, most importantly, quicker time-to-market. By exploring and collaborating with third party partners, smaller operators are able to learn about new and updated technology, which will keep them competitive with larger operators and OTT competitors.

Rather than internalizing innovation, opening up to a continuously evolving shared platform can be much more beneficial, as keeping up with technology is imperative to success. For instance, since Synacor and Irdeto are platform providers that represent millions of users in aggregate, we are able to act as an excellent shared platform for the benefit of many smaller operators. Time is money – why reinvent the wheel when you can adopt successful platforms, partners and technology that have already been proven? Now you can more effectively focus on pushing boundaries and making the user experience even better.

3. Creating Economies of Scale

As we discussed above, operators should not only be open to listening to consumers, but also to utilizing a common platform and infrastructure. With so many technologies and platforms available, it is important to utilize shared resources to gain insight on and access to deployment solutions that may or may not be working for others. Through collaboration of people and financial resources, smaller operators can combine to compete effectively against must larger rivals and stay current as new devices and platforms are introduced to the market.

Instead of incurring the expense of building identity bridges between themselves, vendors, programmers and operators can now explore solutions that already interoperate with rights and DRM platforms as well as dozens of other systems; for instance there are toolkits that require a small effort for operators to federate and for TV programmers to interconnect.

Sharing a hosted and managed service instead of creating an expensive and time-consuming custom and proprietary platform can be beneficial for operators of all sizes. Video processing, management and programmer integration costs become a fraction of the costs for a custom and proprietary solution.

For example, Synacor Cloud ID is a solution that verifies subscriber entitlement to protect access to content, offers access to content through third party TV Everywhere sources or their current VOD library and live-streaming channels, and includes authentication for sign-on across multiple devices. Irdeto’s Rights solution is pre-integrated with Cloud ID for content protection, which is the same protection that all operators large or small need to deploy to distribute premium live or VOD content.

Product scope, reliability, and economies all improve with scale and are required by operators that want to grow their subscriber base and keep current and future customers satisfied. Scale can be created and achieved more quickly via a common platform and infrastructure.

4. The benefits of Cloud: Access and time to market

According to a report by The Yankee Group, the mobile economy is projected to reach $3.1 billion by 2017. This data only underscores the expected increase in consumer demand for streaming video content to mobile devices and an expanded streaming video content offering.

To support this increase in demand, small and medium sized operators should take advantage of tapping into externally managed infrastructure. Through centralized managed services and reporting, smaller operators can attain operational efficiencies, which often lead to lower variable costs for the operator, which affects consumer spending. Hosting content in the cloud is not only an important and necessary offering for subscribers, but is a good business solution.

To seamlessly identify, authorize and integrate at a competitive velocity, operators can leverage solutions that resolve authentication abandonment, interoperate with different DRMs and give operators autonomy to integrate themselves with the TV Everywhere ecosystem, utilizing those platform tools.

Regular technical issues or updates can be taken care of from anywhere in the world. Keep in mind that consumers wanted today's content yesterday, so it is critical to understand that the lack of responsiveness to changing landscapes is the same thing as pay TV live-linear and VOD service disruptions. If the service is disrupted, consumers will look elsewhere. And today, consumers have options.

Are you still a contender?

Content will always be the determining factor for consumers when choosing a content provider. But retaining those consumers and making them happy depends on how all operators – small, medium or large – deliver that content or service. If consumers can't find what they are looking for with you, they will find it somewhere else; or more positively, if they consider their pay TV service provider the main source of all content, they may never leave.

There are advantages small and medium sized operators can realize in order to compete without massive budget and resources. Find partners, solutions and services that adhere to the above advice: make access to content easily available and as simple as possible, collaborate with other industry professionals to enhance your services and utilize cloud technology for distribution. By tapping into innovation together, bridging the divide between you and the consumer (who may think they only have one choice) is attainable.

By Paul Ragland, VP North America, Irdeto and 

George Chamoun, Founder & Executive Vice President, Synacor 

Paul Ragland, Vice President of Sales, North America, Irdeto 

Paul_RaglandWith over 16 years of experience in the digital media industry and seven years at Irdeto, Paul specializes in strategies and technology that shape the evolution of broadband and broadcast entertainment models. Paul came to Irdeto via the acquisition of his former company Dayport Technologies, a video content workflow software company, which served most of the largest News Broadcasters in the US. Paul spearheaded work with some of world’s largest programmers, broadcasters and MSOs leveraging solutions from Dayport Technologies, including the NFL, Viacom, Comcast, WWE, Showtime, Martha Stewart Living, Major League Baseball AM, Time Warner, TV Guide, Fox Home Entertainment, CBS, Clear Channel and Disney.

Prior to Dayport, Paul worked with 9Systems (now Akamai) and e-Media (acquired by 9systems). In those roles, he was part of several landmark developments of video content being delivered over the Internet, from the first network simulcast of a sitcom over the Internet to several of the world’s largest Internet broadcasts. He is a graduate of Colorado State University.

George Chamoun, Founder & Executive Vice President 

gerogeGeorge Chamoun has been critical to Synacor’s success since its inception. As EVP, Chamoun has operational responsibility for many important aspects of Synacor, including sales & marketing, business development, product and service development, and monetization. As a member of the executive leadership team, Chamoun is a key driver in business decisions that impact product design, customers, process and the future direction of Synacor. Chamoun helped lead the acquisition of both HTML5 tech shop, Carbyn, as well as Android mobile technology company, Teknision, where he played a key role in the assessment of the companies and how they could benefit Synacor. Chamoun also took a leadership role in the preparation of Synacor’s IPO in February 2012.

Chamoun co-founded Synacor in 2000 through the merger of MyPersonal, a portal infrastructure company, with, a messaging infrastructure provider. Prior to the creation of Synacor, Chamoun was co-founder and president of He is a graduate of State University of New York at Buffalo with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science.