In Canada this week, BCE (Bell Canada Enterprises) announced its purchase of Astral Media for $3 billion. This is the latest move by Bell to own and control a larger portion of TV programming, sports and entertainment content in Canada. According to the Globe and Mail, BCE chief executive officer George Cope said “the deal represents a doubling-down on [his] media strategy as both TV channel owners and cable and satellite players attempt to fend off the threat of alternative “over-the-top” (OTT) services such as Netflix, which expanded into Canada in 2010.”
BCE also collaborated with Rogers Communications in 2011 to purchase Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, giving them control over live sports content. Both Rogers and BCE are great examples of communications service providers that long ago made the move from a ‘dumb pipe’ to a provider of content that subscribers want – and are willing to pay for.
Control over this valuable video content is one weapon in the battle against the threat of OTT services. Offering more of the content people want can help with subscriber retention. Some service providers are now examining ways to incorporate OTT video traffic within their service bundles. A demonstration that Sigma completed with NDS at the 2012 CableLabs event this week demonstrated how these services can be provisioned – not only to TVs but to tablets and smartphones as well.
Service providers must be able to quickly adapt their offerings in order to retain their subscriber base. They need to have the flexibility to bundle content from a wide variety of sources and make it available to consumers over multiple devices. A strong business strategy goes beyond acquiring and offering the services. As content delivery options extend from the living room to mobility, service providers need to be prepared to deliver them with high degree of service fulfillment automation in a cost-effective way.