Medium is not the service

Cable TV… OTT…. DTH… IPTV… all distinctions that you see in the reports that break down the TV industry. That is TV as the service not the display device. We all see reports that talk about how PayTV is competing with OTT, how Cable TV viewing is down and how the industry should be worried. All of these distinctions are interesting from a technology delivery and feature capability perspective but actually are not from a consumer perspective and in my view provides a false view of the overall health and direction of the industry. In fact I find it harks back to the late 1880s to 1920s electricity industry, with all its discussions about AC/DC, about 55V, 110V, 240V, single phase, 3 phase etc.

The electricity industry back then was complex, with competitions between providers selling different forms of supply, with separate wiring and characteristics that were all useful but were different in technical detail with advantages and disadvantages. At times homes and factories could have multiple suppliers with separate wires and different ‘formats’ of electricity passing over those wires, resulting in a wide variety of different sockets even in the home, and different distributions around it. That was a complete mess, but for good commercial, consumer and technical reasons, over time they standardised (albeit only on a national or regional basis) to a single set of wires to the building, internal wiring suitable to the building and a very limited set of voltages and generally on AC…

This is what is happening now in the TV industry. For many years we have had multiple ways of getting video (as a TV service) to the home which has grown now with the addition of the Internet to those media and the Internet is driving the standardisation of supply in quite a disruptive way. It is my view that in a few short years, the medium of delivery to the home will be ‘OTT’ only.

Given that, it finally will give the death knell I hope to those comparisons of PayTV and OTT and how one is beating the other… as it is not a valid comparison. What is PayTV is actually all those services that ask for payment and that includes those who happen to use the Internet for their delivery and ultimately everyone will be using that delivery media.

So let us see analysis now based on the whole PayTV industry – of on demand subscription, linear, mobile, big screen, small screen, transactional services etc… in other words those things that matter as product features to a consumer. That would be better. And not some false comparison based on delivery media…

Fairmile West is a Consulting company focused on working in the Consumer Device and Video arena. We work with clients on technology strategy and product delivery through key practices in Consumer Devices and Video Services. If you are interested in learning more about what we do, please do get in touch via our website – Contact us. You can also keep track with what interests us in the industry by following our Link blog at TV Tech News, and you can specifically follow news on Ultra HD via the following link – Ultra HD News.