Terrestrial Distribution for MVPDs?
Allison Olien, Vice President and General Manager for Comcast Technology Solutions (CTS), is witnessing firsthand how the changes, challenges, and new opportunities for MVPDs and content providers are evolving the industry faster than ever. She took some time to reflect on how the 2020’s have impacted companies, and on how new technological approaches are opening new doors to growth and profitability.
The 2020s have already proven to be a decade of sweeping change for MVPDs and cable operators around the U.S., starting with the repurposing of C-band spectrum for 5G services. We’re three years in – what’s it like now?
(AO) Well, the C-band reallocation had a definite material impact for satellite-based services; I mean, how could it not? Many of them had to physically transition to a new satellite - for example, our services that had operated from the SES-11 satellite had to migrate to the SES-21 satellite in response. That said, it wasn’t the only thing changing for providers; it was more of a catalyst for a hard look at a) how technology was evolving, b) how device improvements, high-def video and subscription models were changing the competitive landscape, and c) how to compete more effectively in a more dynamic market.
Are these the reasons why CTS recently introduced a new terrestrial distribution model?
(AO) Precisely. MVPDs don’t operate in a bubble; they’ve paid attention to the ways the competitive landscape has changed – changes that have happened on both sides of the screen. For CTS, these are partners we’ve worked with for a long, long time. Satellite delivery is trusted and reliable, but it has limitations, it takes a lot of equipment – and, most importantly, it used to be the only option for many of them. Managed Terrestrial Distribution, or MTD, replaces most (or all) satellite feeds to a cable plant with broadband IP networking. MTD uses a system’s existing internet connection and doesn’t require a dedicated point-to-point-connection to any specific PoP. This not only liberates MVPDs from the limitations of a fixed transponder bandwidth, but also paves the way for the entire content-to-consumer pathway to evolve into full IP delivery.
So, the net result essentially gives these businesses a way to improve services and attract more subscribers in two ways – the ability to offer more services, but also more HD content?
(AO) Ultimately, it’s an opportunity for MVPDs to reimagine the way consumers can engage with their content and clear the way for an evolution to full IP delivery to customers. To your point, yes – with the managed terrestrial distribution we’ve rolled out, a distributor can effectively double the amount of channels they offer and triple the amount of MPEG-4 HD content; but the actual hardware investment is drastically reduced as well. For our current customers as well as other providers looking for a new technology foundation to grow on, we think it’s worth having a conversation about.