Embrace the Future of TV-over-IP Networks

December 13, 2011

TV-over-IP platforms will enable pay-TV operators to reach more subscribers with better television services, says Mauro Bonomi, Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Minerva in this exclusive Q&A

1. Over-the-Top (OTT) TV providers are offering compelling television services directly to consumers, bypassing legacy pay-TV operators. What is enabling this major change in the television industry? OTT TV vendors have taken advantage of recent developments in adaptive streaming technology and connected consumer devices to deliver high quality services directly to consumers. The combination of compelling service pricing (OTT TV providers are not faced with the costs associated with network infrastructure deployments, truck rolls and consumer premise devices) and a flexible, multi-screen user experience has resulted in the rapid adoption of the new offerings. Special agreements with content providers eager to explore new revenue opportunities have also favored OTT TV operators.

2. How can legacy pay-TV operators respond to the competitive pressure from OTT players? The rapid adoption of OTT TV services by millions of subscribers is a clear indication that consumers are open to change. New market entrants have been driving change by embracing new technologies and business models. Incumbent pay-TV providers should take advantage of the very same technologies adopted by OTT TV players and combine them with their unique strengths (their access network and local presence) to deliver superior entertainment services.

3. How can the new TV-over-IP delivery technologies benefit pay-TV operators? By embracing adaptive streaming technology and powerful connected consumer devices pay-TV operators can reach more subscribers with better services while reducing capital and operating expenses. The penetration of legacy IPTV services rarely exceeds 20% of all available broadband lines. With adaptive streaming technology operators can offer television services to the majority of their broadband subscribers with no additional network investment. Compelling services blending legacy pay-TV services with Internet video and available on a variety of wired and wireless connected consumer devices will delight consumers. By turning consumer devices into managed service delivery platforms that do not require costly truck rolls operators can significantly increase the return on investment of their television services.

4. What kind of innovative features can pay-TV operators offer consumers by adopting TV-over-IP technologies? TV Everywhere services which provide access to subscribed services on a variety of devices besides the set-top box in the home, and dual screen navigation that enables content navigation and discovery on a companion tablet or smart phone, are clear examples of how leading service providers can harness the new IP video technologies to please and retain their subscribers. There is also great demand for a better video-on-demand experience (as proven by Netflix's success) and time-shifted television (as proven by Hulu's market traction). As more content from more sources becomes available to consumers better content recommendations and discovery (possibly based on inputs from social networks) will become very appealing.

5. How can operators worldwide take advantage of the new TV-over-IP technologies to deliver the kind of services you have described? While very large service providers have the financial and technical resources to develop custom solutions, most operators worldwide will rely on cost effective, off-the-shelf software solutions harnessing the latest TV-over-IP technologies. Leading TV-over-IP management and delivery platforms, like Minerva's xTVFusion, enable operators to offer a blended multi-screen viewing experience that includes legacy pay-TV services, Internet video, personal and social media, as well as advanced content search and discovery to a broad subscriber base.

6. Will Cable and Satellite services providers embrace TV-over-IP platforms? At the end of 2010 less than 5% of the global pay-TV subscribers (30 million telco IPTV subs vs. 750 million total pay-TV-subs) enjoyed IP-based Television services. At that time Cable TV operators served approximately 500 million pay-TV subscribers worldwide. Satellite operators served the rest of the market. The number of Telco video subscribers worldwide is expected to grow at a rate of over 35% year-over-year between 2011 and 2015 (2011 MRG Report) applying pressure on Cable and Satellite operators. Additional pressure will continue to come from OTT TV providers. Cable and satellite operators are responding to this competitive threat by adopting TV-over-IP platforms to offer innovative services like TV Everywhere.

7. New technologies often enable new business models. Do you envision changes in the existing pay-TV business models driven by the adoption of TV-over-IP technologies? OTT TV operators (like Netflix) have proven that innovative business models can quickly produce superior results. Many service providers worldwide are currently evaluating the deployment of cost effective Broadband TV services to subscribers both within and without their service area. Several operators are also exploring hosted models that would greatly accelerate the adoption of new TV-over-IP services.

8. What role will Minerva play in this new television landscape? The evolution from IPTV to TV-over-IP favors pure-play software vendors like Minerva. As legacy IPTV services require a significant network infrastructure upgrade, large operators have relied primarily on major telecom equipment vendors for their IPTV deployments. The emergence of new TV-over-IP services, like Broadband TV and TV Everywhere, which can be deployed over existing broadband networks, favors nimble infrastructure software players who can be first to market with innovative solutions. Our new xTVFusion platform is being embraced by a growing number of Telephone, Cable and Satellite operators worldwide. We are very excited about the times ahead. Stay tuned!

9. How does the Minerva platform help pay-TV providers extend their reach? Minerva xTVFusion, now in version 5, is a proven platform for the management and delivery of television services over a broad bandwidth spectrum. Operators can offer feature rich IPTV services to subscribers connected via high-performance (15 Mbps and above), multicast enables access networks, while subscribers with access bandwidth as low as 4 Mbps can enjoy HD-like linear and on-demand television services (broadband TV), resulting in a dramatic increase in addressable market.

10. What are the key features and benefits of the Minerva platform? The core Minerva platform comes with a rich feature set for the delivery of pay-TV services (e.g. Live TV, VOD, PPV, STB and network based DVR, Catch-up TV, Restart TV Pause of Live TV, Widgets and more). Minerva has recently enhanced its platform with new features including adaptive streaming support and seamless integration of Internet video content. Minerva xTVFusion also takes advantage of new client technologies (e.g. HTML 5) to provide a more advanced user experience on a variety of connected devices.

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