Interview by Kurt Michel with Joe Fregoso, MEDIAGENIX Director of Business Development, Americas
As published in OTT Executive Magazine, Volume 9, Issue 3 – Summer 2019
Trender Research’s Kurt Michel recently caught up with Joe Fregoso, Dir. of Business Dev., North America, at MEDIAGENIX to talk about the challenges that face content providers in today’s OTT world.
Kurt: Hello Joe. Welcome to the OTT Executive Community. Could you please tell our readers a bit about MEDIAGENIX and the role you play in the media ecosystem?
Joe: Thank you, Kurt, for the opportunity to connect with your community and allowing us to share our perspective of the industry as a global leader in the content, rights management, and video distribution space, as well as formally introduce ourselves to the North American OTT community.
MEDIAGENIX is a global company, headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, with regional offices in Bangkok, Singapore, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We have been in the broadcast industry since 1992. Our broadcast management system (BMS), WHATS’ON, is the engine behind some of the world’s largest, and most complex media groups, broadcast companies, and content owners. We enable, optimize, and allow both linear and non-linear platforms to easily manage complex multiformat content workflows from end-to-end, and publish the right versions and formats to the right publication systems, backed up by a comprehensive rights verification module.
We have more than 100 satisfied customers and broadcasters; large and small, linear and non-linear, including those born exclusívely in the digital space. A few examples are Viacom, Disney, DAZN, Proximus, A+E Networks, M6, Turner, Orange, Etisalat, Zoomer Media, AMC Networks, the BBC, and BeIN Sports.
Kurt: With your rich history and current customer base, you have a firsthand perspective on what video service providers (VSPs) are struggling with today. Can you identify the top 3-5 challenges that commonly present themselves, and how you address them?
Joe: Firstly, I would like to say that most media organizations are, one way or another, being, or will be, “forced” to enter the OTT space. Whether this means to go multidevíce, multi-screen, create a D2C service, or launch a separate service altogether.
Challenges in each case will vary of course and these can range from:
- Identifying what content can be scheduled on which service and when; what we call content rights and scheduling
- Streamlining workflows and defining the specifications of the video, audio files, that are required for each device, platform and service.
- In many cases Linear and VOD (OTT) have been run as separate services within an organization, with VOD being an afterthought service creation — especially for legacy broadcasters. So as the market and operational requirements become more demanding, there is a requirement to consolidate and streamline these processes as these services merge into one consistent offering to the consumer; and it becomes imperative that everyone has an overall view of services ranging from what content is scheduled and where, to how this content performs on various services.
- Business models are changing. And with content being distributed to a variety of platforms, revenue share calculations will become more and more complex to manage, not only with distributors, but down-stream platforms.
Our solution allows large and small players to manage this complexity.
Kurt: We have an explosion of content today — I like to call it “showverload.” In addition, new delivery technologies like 5G and ATSC3.0 are around the corner. What do you see as the key challenges and opportunities in the evolving media industry?
Joe: In our view, both 5G and ATSC3.0 give Broadcast TV a seat at the digital table. The obvious challenges are operational challenges. Additionally, as 5G will improve QoE even further, this will mean additional costs, workflow complexity, and once again, further change.
Both 5G and ATSC3.0 promise the creation of new services. For example, On demand, linear services created specifically for cars — especially when self-driving cars are launched, and opportunities for addressable advertising, rich audience insights, and personalized content that will demand intelligent platforms that will be able to handle and help capitalize on these opportunities.
Kurt: As you have an international customer base, can you tell us somee of the more significant differences you see between the EMEA, LATAM, NA, and APAC markets?
Joe: Obviously, there are mature markets where OTT services are affecting the performance of traditional broadcasting, whether free-to-air (FTA) or Pay TV; The US, UK and Australia being a case in point. Yet Linear TV remains dominant in Central Europe, Asia and Africa.
Although there are many voices crying that linear TV is dead, it is surprising to see how many linear channels are being launched worldwide. Ultimately, the method of delivery of services may have changed (OTT, streaming) yet the form of linear broadcast has not. A live sports event or live entertainment show is still linear, independent of the platform that is used to reach the audience.
In Africa, and even in Latin America, monetization of services is based on totally different business models. Micro-payments and micro-services are prevalent and there is no expectation for a customer to be locked into a 12 or 24-month contract, but rather pay for what they consume, based on a daily or weekly subscription. A model that is also being adopted by various sporting event providers is charging for a single event, a digital pay-per-view model, if you will, rather than a recurring subscription fee. A good example is DAZN with their prize boxing events.
Additionally, regulations are different around the world. This means that global players need tools that ensure compliance to these regulations from country to country. In Latin America, as in Europe, there are multiple countries within the region, with different cultures and Ianguages. To be able to localize content, media companies are turning to platforms like WHATS’ON to allow them to distribute and publish the right content, as well as the right materials (language track, images, and subtitles), within the appropriate rights windows, and to the right platforms, with precision.
Kurt: You refer to the media world today as being “Content-Centric.” Can you give us an example or two of the difference between a “content-centric” approach, and one that is not — perhaps a historical example?
Joe: We refer to ourselves as being contentcentric. With that, I mean that content is at the center of our platform.
As I mentioned earlier, legacy broadcasters entered the VOD/catch-up world as an afterthought, but soon realized that running these services in parallel was onerous and content was not exploited to its full extent. A content-centric approach means having visibility of when you can broadcast the same piece of content, in which format and with which specs, on what services or platforms, for how long, and for how much in the case of EST and TVOD. Not being able to track the rights effectively can mean a loss of revenue.
Kurt: Much of the attention on new OTT-based services has been driven by Subscription VOD – with Netflix and Amazon driving the market. How do you see Ad-based Linear and VOD content fitting into this brave new world?
Joe: I believe that we should be careful and clear of our definition of OTT services. The examples you mention are D2C as will be Disney+ and the Warner service — and all have a global outlook. The challenge of course in being global is in also having the ability to be local both in language and content offering. Netflix, and to a lesser extent Amazon, are implementing this strategy. It will be interesting to see how quickly Disney and Warner follow suit.
It will also be interesting to see how Imdb TV (ex. Freedive) performs globally as an adsupported service. I believe consumers will not mind ads as long as content is desirable. From an operator point of view, ad revenue will need to balance content spend. There are examples of AVOD services around the globe with various degrees of success. As choices for the consumer of SVOD based services becomes greater and therefore more expensive, we believe we will see the proliferation of hybrid models, similar to how Hulu has been operating in the US.
Kurt: I have heard some folks in the industry ta1king about the possible future creation of a single cloud-based content library, where content producers can publish their content with consistent formats, metadata, rights requirements, and more—and service providers can find a rich archive of material with consistent identification, metadata, and formats. Do you have any thoughts on this?
Joe: For this to be achieved in any form will require the agreement to common specs, formats and Asset ID’s. The question then becomes who will own this and what will the model be for access. Up to a point, this is what SMPTE’s Interoperable Master Format (IMF) is supposed to address, but whether we will reach a point of a central content storage system, I have my doubts this is feasible, at least in the near future.
Kurt: Thank you, Joe, for your time today, and your informative responses. It does seem that there is a real and growing industry need for content localization management. Good luck!