Making it all pay
It’s all very well to have a booming connected TV market but how can companies exploit it? Videoplaza CEO Sorosh Tavakoli has one or two ideas
“Multi-device is not a feature, it’s a context.” For video consumers bombarded with a choice of the platforms over which they wish to run content this is something of a redundant statement – like who cares what the context is. But to providers of services wishing to profit from multi-platform, this statement from Videoplaza CEO Sorosh Tavakoli has profound implications.
Making money from innovation has always been the challenge for broadcasters for whom now the issue is how to turn a dollar while TV as we know it in the living room and beyond is evolving at rapid pace.
It’s something that has intrigued Tavakoli since 2007 when he began a major research programme in his native Sweden into the subject; research that a year later led him to co-forming Videoplaza a company with the stated ambition of empowering broadcasters, publishers and networks to maximise their advertising revenues from the new world of connected TV.
Even though he rightly predicted in the research that there would be an explosion in the number and form of video-capable devices, one thing that wasn’t clearly resolved was monetisation. “Essentially the problem has always been the same how do you help monetise online video? There wasn’t a business model for the moving images,” Tavakoli remembered. “I became passionate about how to make online video profitable. You need to solve everything from rights issues, to devices, to making video companies invest properly. That was the big question.”
About a year ago that emphasis changes from looking at one video to connected TV in general. Tavakoli realised that the PC would be just one of many ways to consume video and so he instigated a subtle change. “Anything we do going forwards needs to consider all devices. Any project, any partners, anything. Multi-device is not a feature, it’s a context. [You need to] be able to properly solve the challenges and make most of it.”
The company has grown from its Swedish roots to a new HQ in London—with other offices in Stockholm, Madrid, Paris, Berlin and Singapore—and now sees itself as a sales side IP management platform for IP hybrid TV, helping publishers and broadcasters maximise their broadcasting revenues regardless of where their video is being consumed.
A god example of the type of client it is dealing with is M6 for whom Videoplaza will manage all ads across the platforms that the French broadcaster decides to exploit. This is rather complex, and gives a good snapshot of the modern video provider. That is to say 45% of M6’s VOD business goes across PCs, 45% IPTV and 10%. Videoplaza offers the main advertising infrastructure to monetise VOD content across iPhone and iPad devices, Sony Bravia and Samsung connected TVs and a number of connected Blu-ray devices.
Tavakoli expects that for M6 and other broadcasters, the current mix of supported devices will change sharply.
“I think that PC will continue and there will be strong mobile grow but it won’t be massive. Yet the tablet will be extremely powerful and outperform both PC and mobile. Most exciting is the living room TV with multiple ways to connect through games consoles. There are huge opportunities but no killer app for living room, so when that comes it will significantly impact overall audience. That’s when TV as we know it which was linear with a remote control will change very rapidly within a five-year period. On the back of that advertising revenue will grow as well.
Tavakoli warns though that for broadcasters there will be challenges ahead. “The demand for video content beyond the PC is real but so is the struggle publishers are currently facing to ensure effective monetisation. Media owners need a clear strategy and technology to support them as they implement a device agnostic approach… We have to make sure that we can help the industry transition, which is a really tough one.”