Our elders often tell us that we have it easy, and that things just aren’t the same today as they were when they were young. I’m not sure easy is the right qualifier here, but technology sure has been quite the change agent with many things in today’s world. Take television viewing for example. Many viewers are no longer watching networks anymore; instead, they are watching shows. Because of this shift, live television doesn’t hold the allure it once did, given viewers only tune in live to watch breaking news (if that) and sporting events. This transformation of viewing habits has content owners looking for ways to connect with the younger generations that are less likely to buy into expensive cable subscriptions.
A New Frontier
Enter virtual channels, a new tool which is helping broadcasters and programmers to create new ways to reach audiences at a fraction of the cost that they previously incurred to launch a channel. Virtual channels combine live and video-on-demand assets and attract the ever-elusive younger generation. Virtual channels tap into how and where audiences want to consume content, helping networks to grow their audiences – and revenue. This new technology enables programmers to build additional channels with their content to tailor programming. This may mean regionalization of content, where programming can be grouped with corresponding teams in a particular geography. It will likely help to enable highly personalized content, where each viewer can be targeted with content based on their preferences, previous viewing choices and more.
New Opportunities Help to Reach New Audiences
There are a variety of reasons why virtual channels are being met with enthusiasm and promise by broadcasters and programmers. Key among them is cost. Advances in technology, particularly over-the-top (OTT) streaming, have driven the cost of launching a new channel down by orders of magnitude when compared to the cost of launching a channel just a few years ago. Further, the landscape of viewing outlets has changed to where the audience is now reachable in places they weren’t before. Smartphones and tablets travel with most viewers wherever they go. Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast and smart televisions have also altered the television landscape so that any new programmer can now stand up a channel and reach audience with far less effort and in a more direct manner than ever before. And today’s streaming technology is solving for monetization too through dynamic ad insertion (DAI), where the logical breaks in television shows are replaced with entirely different digital ad inventory that is stitched into the stream, replacing the broadcast ads in real time.
In this new TV landscape, everyone wins. Traditional viewers aren’t disrupted – yet. The newer generation of viewers are able to watch content of interest to them wherever they want without entirely losing the benefit of live TV, and content owners and programmers are able to grow their total audiences and increase revenue. Given the addressable audience, lower cost of entry and universe of devices which consume more and more content every day, expect to see a variety of new virtual channels springing up over the next several months. Our elders were right – not only has the landscape changed, but so has the soil, the trees and the grass.
Matt Smith – Vice President and Principal Media Evangelist
Matt is Vice President and Principal Media Evangelist for Brightcove’s media business unit. He has served in a variety of roles in the industry from architecture to operations and has extensive experience in finding solutions for the challenging problems faced by media and entertainment companies as they reach viewers on any screen. Matt’s experience spans many aspects of today’s complex video workflows and he is a frequent speaker at many industry events and conferences.