The following is an excerpt from a White Paper I recently wrote for Cisco. You can download the entire document here. There’s a short video presentation as well. The idea behind this paper was to explore some of the issues that will face service providers (like cable and IPTV) as the world becomes more broadband-centric.
1. Billy’s Mom
While 11-year-old, Billy R. from Rock Hill, SC played soccer, his mother was just settling down to watch an on-demand movie at home.
The coach gave the kids a break and told them that practice would end an hour earlier than usual. Billy sent his mom a text message that instantly showed up as an overlay on the flat-screen in the Living Room. Billy’s mom grabbed her handheld to answer.
Ten minutes later, she jumped in her car to pick up her son. Arriving a few minutes early, she continued to watch her movie on her handheld device—right from where she paused it back in her Living Room.
When they arrived home, Billy headed straight for the flat-screen to play a quad-split first-person shooter with three kids from other countries. Mom finished watching her movie in the kitchen—full screen on her PC.
This is one of a thousand use-cases cited by the proponents of the “What I want, where I want, when I want” media consumption future. WiwWiwWiw (pronounced wee-wee-wee) foretells a time, in the not too distant future, when everyone will live in a broadband-centric, interoperable, on-demand content universe.
Service Providers (SPs) have a tremendous amount of opportunity in a broadband-centric universe. There are at least three potential revenue streams: subscription services, advertising and transactions. Plus, SPs will benefit from the power of wireless networks, the value of location-based services and the true convenience (and behavioral changes) technology will afford connected consumers.
2. Consumer Media Consumption Paradigm
Globally, each market has a unique media consumption focus. Parts of Asia are mobile phone-centric; others favor PCs; still others are predominantly populated by television viewers. In Europe, satellite and cable are much more evenly split than they are in the US. South America has a remarkably small paid-television consumer base. But, no matter where you look, no matter what market you visit–where there is broadband connectivity–the media consumption paradigm has changed.
Over the past few months, consumers have demonstrated preferences for various types of vide consumption, including: “video snacking”, “download-to-own,” “online video,” and video applications. The adoption of these preferences combined with the advent of technology has helped the Internet quickly evolve into a media-centric environment.
2.1 Consumer Video Experiences
2.1.1 Video Snacks
Video snacks are a new art form which evolved in parallel with the social networking phenomenon. In general, video snacks are short and low resolution. They are extremely inexpensive to produce, or have been appropriated completely free of charge by the person who wishes to share them over the Internet. The short durations of video snacks make them difficult to monetize with traditional television advertising units. Consumers generally will not watch :15 seconds of advertising for each :45 seconds of online content.
2.1.2 Internet Television
Internet Television is a television-like experience over the public Internet. You can find examples of Internet Television at abc.com, nbc.com, cbs.com, and fox.com. In fact, almost every major television network offers some kind of online viewing experience for their most popular shows.
Many believe that the limitations of the public Internet are simply antithetical to the distribution of high-quality, emotionally satisfying images to millions of simultaneous users. They are wrong! Live streaming capacity over the public Internet is equal to all but the very biggest shows in primetime. John Edwards, CEO of Move Networks, thinks that 10 million simultaneous users are easy and that we can expect capacity of 20 million simultaneous streams in the near future.
Although, there is a clear distinction in terms of video consumption behavior between video snacking and Internet Television, there is a fairly homogenous continuum between both. Video content comes in a plethora of subjective and objective quality levels, resolutions, lengths and subjects.
This video content does not have a name that everyone agrees upon. Most people just call it “broadband video” or “online video.” For our purposes, which is simply to silo a piece of video content to a particular value chain, we can take short form videos and call them “video snacks” and longer form pieces (which can be advertiser or subscription supported) and call them “online” or “Internet” television. The important issue is not what to call the content, the issue is how the content is monetized now or may be monetized in the future with the advent of technology.
Download-to-own is a well-understood consumer behavior. iTunes, Amazon-On-Demand and other download-to-own (or rent) services operate under the assumption that consumers will be willing to pay for files, download, store, and then view them. Of course, digital files are hard to protect from piracy. People with more money than time, buy and people with more time than money, pirate.
Download-to-own is often spoken of as “the” form factor that will replace DVDs for long-form and evergreen video content. This may well be the case. The question is, “when?”
2.1.4 Video On-Demand (VoD)
Whether it is video snacking, Internet Television or download-to-own, recent observations of the changes in video consumption lead to one overwhelming conclusion—consumers like to consume video content and, most importantly, they like to be in control of their media consumption experiences. This consumer trend shows significant inclination towards on-demand consumption. So, for SPs, VoD has the potential to be the “killer app.” However, it must evolve.
It is worth noting here that the technology used for the first generation VoD product was poorly designed from a business perspective. The idea that people would rather press a button and watch a movie than go to a video store was good—but the value chain was flawed. The market price for a PPV movie was too low for Studios and too high for consumers. And, without an intelligence layer, the system could not evolve to deliver television-on-demand or even help promote appropriate content based upon viewer behavior.
2.1.5 Video Applications
Lastly, it is important to consider video applications that are also having a significant impact on consumers (webcams) and businesses (video conferencing). As travel becomes more and more difficult and expensive, you can expect two-way video applications to approach ubiquity in broadband environments.
Video is everywhere and it is being produced and consumed at record levels. Video is becoming more personal, more interactive and more social. Both production and consumption are trending upwards and will continue to do so indefinitely.
You can download the entire document here.