The “anywhere” video delivery platform

Anyone who invests in the stock market knows that the term “diversified portfolio” is the foundation that all of our investment strategies are built upon. By spreading risk around to multiple investments, the chance of failure is massively reduced, and success can be optimized by identifying and making the most out of high-performing areas. It makes a lot of sense to think about your video delivery platform in the same way that you look at your investment portfolio – even if it’s not for the exact same reasons.

A winning, platform-agnostic QoE

The video delivery platform conversation often centers around “broadcast vs. digital,” but to truly capitalize on today’s diverse video market, brands are setting themselves up to succeed on whatever viewing platform that customers prefer. It’s more than just the convergence of workflows and delivery mechanisms – it’s about recognizing the value that each destination brings to the table, and the ability to capitalize rapidly on any shifts in audience preference.

Personalization, discoverability, and ease-of-use are all just as crucial to a high quality of experience (QoE) as playback quality. For example, in November 2017, Adobe reported to StreamingMedia.com that TV Everywhere usage is increasing by 46% year over year, with almost half of all starts being supported by Adobe’s single sign-on (SSO) functionality. Prior to SSO, users had to constantly re-authenticate themselves to use their service on another device, resulting in a failure rate of nearly half of all log-on attempts. It seems simple, but it’s representative of the elevated value that media companies can demonstrate when experiences can transition as seamlessly between video delivery platforms as consumers do.

Of course, all the quality-of-life improvements in the world won’t entice users back to an inferior playback experience. It’s not an either-or proposition, but more of a “quality trifecta” that brings great content, user-friendliness, and superior image quality into one reliable experience. Speaking of image quality . . .

About those 4K and HDR demands . . .

It’s the holiday season, which again means that lots of folks are shopping for new TVs. When I’m talking to friends and relatives about 4K and HDR, it helps to keep it simple: 4K refers to resolution – the number of pixels on a screen, and HDR (high dynamic range) refers to brightness, color and contrast. It also helps to explain that a high-performing screen is still only as good as whatever it’s connected to – and that the associated content is still a precious commodity. It doesn’t take any prognostication to state that in 2018, we can expect an exponential increase in users who are looking to capitalize on the performance of their new flat screen with premium content and connected device upgrades. It’s an interesting story: on one hand, according to SNL Kagan 4K-capable TVs will be in over 26 million U.S. households by the end of this year, with that number expected to double in three years. At the same time, 40% of users report that they don’t see a noticeable difference between 4K and standard-def video – and 17% say that it’s just not worth the money. HDR, on the other hand, delivers the game-changing visuals that command top dollar; but most HDR content available today is in the form of expensive single-transaction VOD purchases.

The takeaway for content creators and providers? Every business plan needs to operate with the expectation that sooner rather than later, 4K/HDR offerings will be as ubiquitous as HD video is today. Top content creators are already offering their original programming in 4K, and 4K streaming is the linchpin of most high-tier subscriber options. The volume equation – much larger individual files, and much more of them – should be factored into the lifecycle management plan of every company’s technology stack.

Your delivery portfolio = a playbook for the long game

Back in September we talked about building a lasting, elastic media brand by imbuing both technology management and business plans with the agility to pivot quickly – and by freeing up resources that can be used to create and curate competitive content. Your video delivery platform portfolio is the ultimate manifestation of this kind of operational agility, and it’s more complicated than a simple term like “platform agnostic” suggests. Is your experience optimized for every device/geography/platform equation? As viewing preferences shift to higher-quality video, will the increase in data demands impact your ability to scale along with your audience? Can you shift focus to the destinations that resonate most strongly with viewers? It’s this sort of continuous analysis and course correction that leads to long-term profitability.

We’ve seen some great things this year, from the first 4K HDR mobile devices to the continued evolution of the home TV as a premiere hub for dynamic content experiences. Next year is shaping up to be more of the same as companies work to provide the content, user experiences, and overall value that lengthen and strengthen the individual consumer relationship.

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