Pay-TV operators are now within the Super Aggregation era, where optimizing their platform is crucial in differentiating themselves from their competitors. Offering a hybrid service, where everything from broadcast media to apps and Over-The-Top (OTT) streaming is managed on one platform.
Having access to the data and analytics on how users interact with the platform can also help give the operator an edge over their competitors. In this article, we explain Quality of Service (QoS), detailing its importance in taking advantage of key opportunities, as well as dealing with Set-Top-Box (STB) threats.
What is Quality of Service (QoS) in video?
When we speak about QoS in video delivery, we are referring to the whole experience for the subscriber. This includes the metrics controlled by the operator as well as the Quality of Experience (QoE) – the quality and delivery satisfaction of video – felt by the viewer. QoS in managed video and STB support shouldn’t be confused with the QoS metrics within the retail environment, where bandwidth and networking can be altered to divert and prioritize incoming web traffic.
Operators aim to provide a high-quality service where latency, buffering, delays and interruptions are greatly reduced, or ideally, not present at all. Instead, Ultra High Definition (UHD), 4K and 8K viewing options are delivered seamlessly throughout their subscriber base. The availability of STB memory contributes to a fast and high-quality viewing experience as premium apps may function slower if multiple are running or downloading at the same time.
How do operators benefit from QoS?
Operators today are in a strategic position within the entertainment industry where broadcast as well as user-generated content is going direct to the end-user. Pay-TV operators are uniquely positioned to reign the living room space with STBs and with a well-maintained customer relationship, they can deliver the highest quality experience. How operators control and manage their STB fleet helps keep the delivery standards high and encourages healthy competition between the vendors.
When the QoS is monitored and managed correctly, it can greatly influence the QoE as the customer satisfaction ratings would reflect positively toward the video streaming and service delivery.
Why are QoS and QoE important for video content streaming?
When streaming video content, both at the consumer and operator level, keeping the service delivery at its highest can sometimes be a tricky process. For an operator, differentiating from competitors can boil down to the accuracy of the smallest details (service reliability and availability, low latency, STB response and performance), complemented by the technical service that allows for an uninterrupted viewing experience.
Both QoS and QoE are increasingly essential factors to differentiate in the competitive video entertainment industry. As the image quality, latency and uptime of a video service all contribute to the user experience, mismanaged QoE can result in a high churn rate, reduced customer loyalty and heightened customer management costs.
When it comes to providing a reliable and consistent service, operators need to be able to troubleshoot key issues within the broadcast and OTT workflows as premium apps are also a major delivery of video and need to run smoothly. In the case of STBs and Android TV (as a super aggregator) in particular, operators have insight into a greater scope within the delivery chain, allowing them to receive notifications on problems in real time. Operators can then respond and prevent the issues from reaching the end user, or resolve them quickly, positively influencing the QoE.
How can you ensure a good viewing experience?
The overall viewing experience is largely controlled by the operator as they provide a consolidated platform which combines the viewing options for OTT, premium apps as well as the operator’s broadcast content. The STB delivers a broadcast-like experience with single-sign-on, performance security, as well as search and discovery features that span across all applications and content channels.
Pay-TV Operators have the capability to facilitate the up time of the service, manage the number of features available and set the premium standard for quality. A good viewing experience is made up of a combination of QoS and QoE.
Pay-TV operators should keep in mind the following when aiming for the best viewing experience:
- Maintaining control of their platform by monitoring the STBs and being quick to react if there is a software- or app store-related issue with a planned patch release, or if there is a hardware issue, they can contact directly with the end user for a replacement.
- Leveraging subscribers’ data to provide content suggestions to the viewer and recommending shows that would match their preferences. Subscribers’ data can also be used to address the platform issues proactively, for example: When a STB is running hot, the operator can send a message to the user to reposition their STB for continued uninterrupted viewing.
- Ensuring security by keeping a watchful eye on apps to make sure there is no malware or fraudulent activities that may jeopardize the experience.
- Business continuity allows pay-TV operators to expand their services onto different platforms such as Android TV and RDK-V. Additionally, specific features such as malware detection, STB analysis and replacements, as well as removal of faulty apps from the app store, contribute to the delivery on an uninterrupted quality experience.
When the end-user’s overall experience is positive through uninterrupted streaming, useful content features and stable network services then you’ll achieve a higher QoE.
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