Signing off 2023…

BLOG by Mark Johns, CEO, Switch Media

As the year draws to a close, we reflect on the last 12 months. The following blog gives a brief snapshot of Switch Media in 2023.

The year started with a TVB Europe article that included streaming predictions for 2023, featuring our VP Business Development, Oscar Gutierrez. In the article Oscar said, “Alternative business models across the streaming technology sector are likely to become more widely seen in 2023, with a particular focus on AVOD. In countries where there is a high population and lots of scope for advertisers to create revenue, there are more opportunities for different business models between vendors and content owners such as revenue share deals. AVOD services can also focus on local content, which is a huge value-add for consumers.”

This has absolutely been the case and we’re seeing a much greater appetite for AVOD again as consumers continue to be squeezed by the cost-of-living crisis. A modular technological approach, which is the way we work at Switch Media, allows us and our customers to adapt their business model over time as it becomes clear what works in their market or markets.

Another revenue opportunity for content owners, and one that continues to gain traction and will be strong in 2024, are FAST channels. Oscar wrote an article titled Hold On, not so FAST for TVB Europe, which was published in October. FAST channels enable streamers to play and replay re-runs, pre-owned, or previously aired content on a continuous loop. This keeps costs to a minimum, and therefore maximises ad revenue and ROI. To properly monetise FAST channels every individual can be served targeted ads using SSAI (server-side ad insertion) technology.

The SSAI model works on a CPM basis (cost per thousand) with the channel owner receiving a fixed amount per thousand views. Generally, advertisers will pay quite a lot more for ads viewed on a connected TV rather than via an app or browser, as a larger screen suggests higher engagement and impact. So, the more connected TV viewers, the better for the channel owner.

What’s important for content owners and viewers is that ads are delivered using a TV-like viewing experience. Also, advertisers want addressable advertising options, while avoiding ad-blockers. Our AdEase technology, which is part of our world-class MediaHQ online content publishing platform, provides multi-screen dynamic ad insertion for both live and on-demand content and standardises advertising delivery with rich addressable personalised advertising across individual and household connected devices.

In April we headed to Las Vegas for NAB Show, where we showcased MediaHQ. And, in September, we were off to Amsterdam for IBC, where we were co-located on the Planetcast stand with a MediaHQ demo station. From our perspective, there were three main takeaways from the show. First that word again, monetisation. Streaming start-ups need to be aware that launching a platform is a marathon and not a sprint. They need to have the patience to develop their offering over time and they need to have enough financial backing to carry the first couple of years. For content owners, the process is much easier because they can push their content out and monetise it more quickly but for streamers that are aggregating content, they need the financial backing to take that initial hit.

The second is companies who claim to be able to do it all. We see this a lot in the streaming space. If you’re supplying to one customer it’s not difficult to supply and provide the necessary support for an end-to-end solution but if you’re supplying to multiple customers around the world, this is far more complex and takes a great deal of experience to navigate. The third comes back to FAST again.

In August we announced that MediaHQ was chosen by Malaysia’s first and largest video streaming network Tonton, owned and operated by media powerhouse Media Prima, to create an integrated, dynamic new OTT service. Initially launched in November 2022, the AVOD service was available on the Web, as well as on mobile apps for Android and iOS for smartphones and tablets with display and in-stream ads. It carries a collection of Media Prima’s market-leading free-to-air channels. This March saw the launch of Tonton’s SVOD service, home to a range of premium international content, as well as local content, providing a broad selection of programmes for viewers. We have also rolled out these services to Android TV and Smart TVs.

As we move into 2024, our powerful MediaHQ technology provides increased opportunities for streamers to monetise their content, reach more eyeballs, maximise revenue and simplify workflows with a modular approach. It also gives more options to shift away from Capex to Opex, powered by the ongoing move to virtualised and cloud technologies. Cloud playout is a good example of this where rather than having to purchase and install hardware to create or alter services using a Capex model, now these can be virtualised, based on backend services like AWS or Azure. This means services like pop-up channels can be spun up and spun down very cost effectively with capacity available on-demand.

The fundamental modularity and virtualised technology approach of much of what we do comes to the fore here. This gives us and our customers tremendous flexibility in the way that we can approach projects from both technical and business angles.

We’ll sign off this last blog of 2023 by saying we hope you have a wonderful holiday season and a very happy and prosperous New Year. See you in 2024!